First diaphragm procedure of its kind in Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A quadriplegic patient has become the first Arizonan to undergo a new medical procedure that allows him to breathe on his own.

University Medical Center in Tucson says one of its doctors successfully implanted an electrical diaphragm stimulator on a 20-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a gunshot to the neck.

The procedure ends a patient's dependence on a ventilator and allows more mobility while also improving their sense of smell.

About 11,000 patients become quadriplegic each year in the United States and 500 will require a ventilator for life. Doctors say the diaphragm stimulator will help 70 percent of those patients.

The battery-powered diaphragm stimulator was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008.

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