Respiratory muscle fatigue after prolonged mechanical ventilation of the lungs is a common occurrence. This is probably due to disuse atrophy. The standard technique used to overcome this problem is to gradually wean the patient from the respirator over the course of several days or weeks.
Hypothesis: based on experience with the rehabilitation of skeletal muscles during long-term immobilisation of the extremities following trauma or surgery and on experience with diaphragm pacing in quadriplegics, intermittent electrical or magenetic stimulation of the diaphragm while the lungs are still being mechanically ventilated may be beneficial. The result of such stimulation would be to preserve the dysfunctioning diaphragm from atrophy.
Consequences: dependence on the respirator, length of intubation time, risk of complications and length of stay in the ICU would be considerably reduced.