IAHP Oxygen Enrichment Program (Masking)
Our main focus on the IAHP program for the first month has been Physiology and Nutrition, we then move into the Physical and Intellectual aspects next month. Chiara’s nutrition has absolutely stepped up a notch, she has the most incredibly heathy diet! It’s so reassuring knowing that she is meeting all her daily nutritional needs, which is also registered onto a huge spreadsheet as we track everything she consumes in a day. The comforting part of the IAHP program, is that everything is measured, recorded and analysed so we are able to track her development along the way.
Aside from the fact that Chiara should remain on the floor in the prone position as much as possible throughout the day (to provide maximum opportunity for her to move), the oxygen enrichment program (masking) is the most important program for Chiara. The aim is to increase the amount of oxygen to the brain, which is hugely beneficial for children with brain injury. The method behind the masking is that as Chiara wears the mask for a very short period, she is rebreathing carbon dioxide (but still getting oxygen), which increases its concentration. The higher carbon dioxide levels trigger a reflex in the brain to dilate the brain’s blood vessels, which means that more blood can flow through the brain. Masking also helps to grow Chiara’s chest and lungs, which is paramount given she has not had the opportunity to crawl or run around like other kids do, and therefore these areas have not been given the chance to develop like they would in a neuro-typical child.
During one of the Institutes lectures in Philadelphia they gave us an idea of how it feels for a child with poor respiration to do things in life. They made 3 parents (I was one of them!!) run around the lecture theatre 5 times and one was asked to either eat, sing or write their name both before and after the exercise. I had the later option, and found it difficult to write my name up on the board after the 5 laps, it didn’t flow as easy as it did prior to the exercise. It demonstrated how hard it is for someone who doesn’t have well-developed respiration, to complete everyday activities. So we are slowly building our way to 40 masks a day, at 30 second max per mask, and a 5 minute minimum interval between them.
We use a kitchen timer to monitor both the time and space between each masking session, when I go to sleep I can still hear the “beep, beep, beep” singing through my mind! We haven’t missed a day of masking since our return and already I am noticing such a huge impact. Chiara’s rigidity is not as intense, and she is sleeping better which is always a good thing! On that note, I better get some zzz’s in too… xx