Diaphragm paralysis is when a traumatic injury or disease process interrupts the brain’s communication with the diaphragm. This interruption leads to decreased or stopped impulses from the respiratory stimuli in the brain. Breathing pacemakers are a helpful and effective treatment option for patients with diaphragm paralysis, as long as the phrenic nerve(s) and diaphragm(s) are intact.
Phrenic Nerve Palsy
Phrenic nerve palsy, or phrenic nerve paralysis, is caused by a number of different conditions or traumatic events. The phrenic nerve originates in the neck, passing downward between the lungs and heart to connect to the diaphragm. The nerve branches to the left and right, connecting to different parts of the diaphragm. The phrenic nerve is the only source of motor supply for the diaphragm, meaning that when it stops working, the diaphragm cannot function normally. When a patient has phrenic nerve damage, it is usually caused by one of the following: