Respiratory inadequacy is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among patients with spinal muscular atrophy type 2. The primary complications include ineffective cough with decreased airway clearance, nocturnal hypoventilation, diminished lung and chest wall development, and greater risk for pulmonary infection. Respiratory devices including mechanical insufflator-exsufflator and bilevel positive airway pressure are the primary devices of respiratory maintenance and treatment and are associated with decreased morbidity and fewer hospital admissions. This article discusses the primary respiratory complications of spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and the role of respiratory interventions to encourage growth and development, improve cough efficacy, reverse nocturnal hypoventilation, and prevent and treat pulmonary infection.
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