Meg Throckmorton, 16, of Waynesburg, Pa., received the device after sustaining a high cervical spine injury resulting in quadriplegia while practicing for a dance competition.
Jennifer Knight, M.D., a trauma surgeon at WVU Healthcare’s Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center, was on call the evening of Friday, April 13, when Meg arrived in Morgantown after her injury, and was brought in to consult on the case. She also is the same surgeon who was first in the state to implant a diaphragmatic pacemaker in an adult patient.
An upper spinal cord injury breaks the connection between the brain and the diaphragm – the brain can no longer tell the diaphragm to contract. But for some people who suffer this type of spinal cord injury, a pacemaker for the diaphragm can be put into place to help them breathe. Just as a pacemaker for the heart helps to control the heartbeat, a diaphragmatic pacemaker stimulates the diaphragm to contract, allowing the patient to breathe.
The device, NeuRx DPS is currently being used in less than 35 cities nationwide, according to its manufacturer, Synapse Biomedical. WVU is the only center using the device in West Virginia.
Read the complete story >