Brooke Hopkins may be Utah's first spinal-cord injury patient to receive a diaphragmatic stimulator, or pacer, to help him breathe.
The device, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, includes two electrodes that are attached some distance apart on the underside of each half of the diaphragm. An electric pulse is sent from the battery pack to make them fire. When they do, the diaphragms contract, pulling air into the lungs. This is the way healthy people breathe, not having air pushed into the lungs the way a mechanical ventilator operates.