THE CAPNOTRAINER AND CAPNOPLUS
This is part 2 in our four part series on how KIMA is using the latest technology to further improve the quality of our care and enhance outcomes for our clientele. Today we’re talking about how an individual’s breathing can affect symptoms, and that how learning to recognize dysfunctional breathing habits and retraining them can help to manage and control those symptoms.
The past decade has seen an explosion of knowledge in our understanding of pain and how it affects the body. Some of the most powerful discoveries have been in the realm of chronic pain, and how pain may linger even though the original injury may have resolved. This is attributed to the brain laying down a pattern of connections known as a Neurotag, which functions in a similar way to when it lays down a series of instructions for performing complex movements. Or, put another way, it’s like a macro on your computer.
Anything that triggers the Neurotag will end up causing pain experienced somewhere in the body. We know that damage in the tissues doesn’t have to be present for someone to feel pain, since the pain experience is generated by the brain, and that one of the things that can trigger the pain neurotag is changes in breathing and body chemistry. Sound interesting? Read on.
Meet the CapnoTrainer.
In addition to getting oxygen into your body and getting carbon dioxide out, breathing also serves an important role in regulating your body chemistry. Things like pH levels, electrolyte balance and hemoglobin chemistry are all impacted directly by the concentration of carbon dioxide. To maintain a stable chemical axis, CO2 levels at the end of the exhale should be maintained consistently between 35-45mmHg.
Changes in breathing patterns (for example, aborting your exhale) are a learned behavior that can be triggered by a stressful situation, particular person or even a thought and can exacerbate, perpetuate, or cause a wide variety of symptoms, including chronic pain, muscle tension and headaches.
The CapnoTrainer is a cutting-edge technology tool, now available at KIMA, that can record and display, in real time, exhaled carbon dioxide levels for learning and teaching new breathing behaviors. In so doing a patient can learn about their breathing patterns, facilitate optimal respiration and observe its effect on the body’s chemistry and potentially symptoms. Clients discover how they have learned to breathe, how their breathing affects them, and how to effectively self-regulate breathing behavior based on learning rather than a prescriptive exercise.
We have also taken delivery of the CapnoPlus, a complimentary biofeedback technology that allows live monitoring of heart rate variability and EMG activity (monitoring the path of the electrical pulse across the heart). This information, when used in tandem with the CapnoTrainer, provides us with a system for measuring, monitoring & retraining some of the known triggers for chronic pain.
About Heart Rate Variability: Under normal, healthy circumstances, there is a certain and desirable level of variability in the timing of your heart beats. Your heart is not totally metronomic, and the variations between beats are small, but nevertheless measurable. Of note is that this variability DECREASES under conditions of stress, anxiety or emotional strain. It reduces when you are worried. The CapnoPlus can detect this, and when used with the CapnoTrainer, allow us to get snapshot of the chemical and physiological environment you are in when these things occur, and provide a valuable training tool when learning how to prevent it.
In addition to a comprehensive physical examination, use of the CapnoTrainer & the CapnoPlus gives us the opportunity to delve a little deeper into one of the lesser-appreciated factors affecting or contributing to the chronic pain experience.
By Derek Mansfield
Sports Physical Therapist
Derek is an Australian-trained Sports Physiotherapist with more than 17 years’ experience. He completed his undergraduate training at the University of Melbourne in 1995, and his Masters of Sports Physiotherapy at Latrobe University in 2012. Derek has worked with elite & recreational athletes in sports as diverse as cycling, rugby union, fencing, tennis, diving & basketball. Check out his full bio here.
Book your appointment with Derek at KIMA today.