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Frequently Asked Ventilator Care Questions:

ventilator questions


While the terms “pulmonary” and “respiratory” are generally used to describe breathing and the lungs, vent programs take respiratory care to another level. We’ve learned never to underestimate patients, as many individuals with tracheostomies or ventilators can live independent, active lives. As one patient put it, “I’m not attached to the ventilator. The ventilator is attached to me.” Life with a ventilator can bring unique challenges, but the right care can help you gain strength and confidence.

Ventilators may sound scary, but they are specialized equipment commonly used to facilitate breathing following illness or injury. A tracheostomy, or “trach” is a surgically created opening in the throat. The ventilator, sometimes called the “vent,” is a breathing machine that pumps oxygen into the body through a small cannula inserted into the trach. Some patients have a trach but do not require the support of a ventilator.

Will I be able to eat or talk?


Vents require special attention when it comes to eating. Some people may have trouble swallowing due to the trach or other medical conditions, and will require feeding tubes or special diets of softened foods or thickened liquids.

Speech can present some challenges for people with trachs and vents. While you may be able to learn to use a speaking valve, other options include having your lips read, using a letter board, or writing messages using paper or a whiteboard. Specially trained speech therapists can help you strengthen muscles and find the best way for you to communicate, and can even help you find the best way to get nutrition, whether through oral feeding or other means.

Can I Return Home?


For many people living with vents, life at home supported by family or home care is not only possible, but optimal. In our experience, some patients can be weaned off of the ventilator entirely through a program of rehabilitation. For other patients, rehab allows them to live independent and active lives. Ventilator programs can provide the care you need, whether that’s short-term rehab and education to help you return home and live independently, or long term care with activities and amenities to make sure your new normal is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

How can a Speech Therapist help?


With a thorough knowledge of muscles in the mouth and throat, speech therapists are instrumental in helping vent and trach patients regain strength and improve quality of life. Rehab plans often include a speech therapist who works with patients to retrain and strengthen the muscles necessary in swallowing and speech.

For example, speech therapists can help patients who have difficulty swallowing. They assist in determining the best diet or feeding option for patients with trachs and vents. Bedside swallow exams allow a speech therapist to evaluate a patient’s current abilities, modifying their diet accordingly.

Speech therapists also help patients find the best way to communicate. Vocalizing can be frustrating and tiring with a vent. Goals of therapy may include training to use a speaking valve, strengthening throat muscles to make speech easier, or learning to communicate through non-vocal means.

Dedicated pulmonary ventilator units include an interdisciplinary team of dedicated respiratory therapists and nursing staff with decades of experience. We take pulmonary rehab to another level, with the resources and expertise to care for patients with tracheostomies (trachs) and ventilators (vents).

Experienced respiratory therapists are available around the clock to provide trach and vent care whenever you need it. All of our staff are specially trained to handle ventilators and tubes, helping put you or your loved one at ease.

The unit itself is designed uniquely with comfort and safety in mind. An integrated alarm system immediately notifies nurses and therapists when patients need attention.

Different Approaches to Ventilator Care:


Getting off the vent isn’t always the first priority. While other programs may try to wean prematurely, focusing on patients’ strength and endurance to ensure success is a main concern. A well thought out care routine builds trust with patients and their families, allowing professionals to share the benefits of their expertise.

Remaining as active as possible also facilitates rehab and recovery. Dedication to quality of life, encouraging patients to get out of bed, eating, and living as independently as possible is the most important part of recovery to as normal as possible.

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Frequently Asked Ventilator Care Questions
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