Ventilator Weaning Programs

Shepherd Center's ventilator services program is led by an experienced and aggressive team of respiratory therapists, pulmonologists and an intensivist who work to wean patients off ventilators whenever possible.

Many patients with a spinal cord injury at the C-3 level or below have the potential to be weaned from the ventilator. Yet, before we recommend ventilator weaning, our staff evaluates each patient's physical and psychological state.

Modalities such as biofeedback can be used in some instances to retrain the weakened muscles. The goal is wean patients off the ventilator and also teach them how to live an active and productive life post-injury.


Shepherd Center began ventilator weaning not long after its inception in 1975, and at any given time, we are treating a dozen or more patients on ventilators.

For patients who remain ventilator-dependent, Shepherd focuses on educating the patient on how to live an active lifestyle. We believe that being ventilator-dependent doesn't mean patients have to stop enjoying life.

At Shepherd Center, patients on ventilators begin wheelchair mobility as early as the patient can tolerate room air. Before leaving Shepherd, patients participate in community outings to help them become comfortable using their equipment outside the center and in a community environment.

Shepherd Center clinicians also train each patient and their family members in home care techniques and health management. Patients and their families receive detailed information educating them about the process.

For some patients on a ventilator, an implanted Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS) is an option for respiratory support. Learn more here.