Collaboration Provides Cough Assist Machines to British Columbia Residents With Neuromuscular Disease

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by Mary Chapman |

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A partnership between Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) and Technology for Living (TFL) will seek to provide a cough assist device to any adult in British Columbia who has neuromuscular disease and needs one.

Under the new partnership, adults who are registered with the MDC — a nonprofit organization — may apply for a breathing machine through TFL’s Provincial Respiratory Outreach Program (PROP). In addition to offering devices, the partnership aims to assess health outcomes of patients provided cough assist.

The overarching goal is to identify and support solutions for individuals with neuromuscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy (MD), a group of more than 30 inherited genetic diseases. Currently, provincial funding for respiratory equipment is available only for children up to age 18. For many people with MD, chest muscle deterioration makes it progressively difficult to cough, which can lead to serious lung infections and respiratory failure.

“It’s thanks to the support of donors, firefighters, event participants, and our family of chapters, that MDC is able to participate in this partnership with PROP to provide cough assists and evaluate the health outcomes of the individuals receiving this vital equipment,” said Stacey Lintern, interim CEO at MDC, in a press release.

“This partnership will help to address the respiratory support needs of the neuromuscular community in British Columbia. However, this funding will only address a small portion of the need,” Lintern added. “Persons impacted with neuromuscular disorders need access to cough assists, and we’re committed to working with PROP and the provincial government to provide access regardless of care.”

While there are various kinds of cough assist machines, they all help to clear lung secretions so that patients can breathe better. The apparatus usually includes a mask, mouthpiece, or tracheostomy tube that is applied to the airway. As the patient breathes in, the machine slowly blows air into the lungs, then briskly pulls air out, along with any mucus.

“As more people with health conditions are living and working at home, it is important that health services meet those needs,” said Esther Khor, registered respiratory therapist and PROP manager. “PROP is excited to collaborate with Muscular Dystrophy Canada to support the trialing of cough assists in the home.”

“Together with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, we are taking a step together to keep respiratory health a priority,” Khor said.

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