Chicago—If asked to describe a respirator-dependent patient, most physicians will probably imagine a debilitated, immobilized, and sedated person, monitored in an intensive care setting with the usual array of probes, alarms, telemetry, and skilled nursing staff. During the past 10 years, however, tens of thousands of adults and children with neuromuscular diseases, and a small number with emphysema, have pursued productive lives while receiving mechanical ventilation at home.
Margaret Pfrommer, a ventilator-dependent, quadriplegic, polio survivor lived alone independently for over 40 years. She served as a consultant and advocate for the development of technology aids and public policies that now permit persons with severe disability to work and live a life of their choice with dignity. (Photo credit: Allen Goldberg, MD)
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