Back to Top Respiratory Rehabilitation for Neuromuscular Disease | The Ottawa Hospital Favourite Icon

Patients suffering from a neuromuscular disease and spinal cord injury (SCI) who are respiratory compromised (e.g., ALS, multiple sclerosis, post-polio and spinal cord injury) require a variety of respiratory muscle aids which differ from clients with chronic lung (e.g. chronic bronchitis, emphysema) diseases.

Patients with neuromuscular diseases and SCI generally have weak breathing and coughing muscles. Breathing is minimally affected by daily activities until infection is present or the disease becomes more advanced. Preventative airway management measures initiated at an early stage can prevent unnecessary hospital visits and emergency admissions, while at the same time allowing the patient to maintain independence in a home-based setting.

The Respiratory Services, CANVent (Canadian Alternatives in Non-invasive Ventilation) unit has championed noninvasive airway management for this patient population since 1995. They have driven improvements in the care of neuromuscular disease patients throughout Canada. Increased expertise and patient satisfaction have resulted in international consultation and education requests. The Medical Director, Dr. Douglas McKim has authored the first Canadian Guidelines in Home Mechanical Ventilation.

Our Services

The most important innovative feature of Respiratory Services, CANVent is the identification of patients at risk of long-term ventilation early in the disease cycle.

This team provides consults and education related to noninvasive ventilation, empowering patients and families to choose treatment most suited to their lifestyle.

Our treatment program includes the following features:

  • Breathing tests designed for this patient population
  • Increase lung volume
  • Increase suppleness of the lung and rib cage
  • Improve cough efficiency
  • Prevent infection
  • Permit independence through lung hygiene
  • Assess the presence of sleep disordered breathing
  • Assist breathing muscles up to 24 hours a day with mechanical aids such as bi-level devices and home ventilators
  • Provide education and strategy on how to prevent the need for a tracheostomy
  • Facilitate ventilation decision-making
  • Train patients and caregivers on the use of breathing and respiratory muscle aids

Our Team

  • Respirologist
  • Registered respiratory therapist
  • Registered nurse

Making an appointment

Patients are eligible to the treatment program if they are 18 years of age or older and have the following diagnosis:

  • Muscular dystrophies
  • Myopathies
  • Neurological disorders
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other motor neuron diseases, poliomyelitis, neuropathies, diaphragm paralysis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Friedreich’s ataxia, spinal cord injuries, etc.
  • Skeletal disorders, such as kyphoscoliosis

Additional Resources

Contact Us

For more information, please contact us