Learning about Tracheostomy for Kids: Information from Trachie-O Potamus and Ginger Giraffe:
This is Trachie-O-Potamus. You can call him Trachie-O if you would like. He wants to teach you about tracheostomy!
What is Tracheostomy?
A tracheostomy tube is a tube inserted into the neck to help with breathing. There are many different reasons that someone may need a tracheostomy tube! The lungs may not be working properly or perhaps air is not able to pass through the trachea (breathing tube).
One a tracheostomy is placed, breathing occurs in and out of the tracheostomy tube instead of through the nose and mouth.
Here is a tracheostomy tube:
Can you point to Trachie-O's tracheostomy tube?
How does Ginger Giraffe breathe?
Ginger Giraffe breathes through his mouth and nose similar to humans. Oxygen is inhaled and carbon dioxide is released. Oxygen travels from the mouth and nose, down the trachea and into the lungs. A giraffe’s lungs are 8 times larger than a human! When Ginger breathes out, carbon dioxide is released.
How does Trachie-O breathe?
Trachie-O breathes a little bit differently than Ginger giraffe as well as differently from someone without a tracheostomy tube. Instead of breathing in through the mouth or nose, Trachie-O breathes through a tube in his neck called a tracheostomy tube. When breathing in, air enters the tracheostomy tube and goes into the lungs. When breathing out, air is released back through the tracheostomy tube into the environment.
When Trachie-O coughs, the mucous comes out the tracheostomy tube. Sometimes he may not be able to cough out the mucous. He might need to remove mucous and secretions with a suction catheter.
What does a suction catheter look like?
How does Trachie-O speak?
Trachie-O is also unable to speak as clearly with a tracheostomy tube. This is because air needs to pass through the vocal folds in order to speak. The tracheostomy tube limits the amount of air that goes out the mouth and nose. A speaking valve can help with this.
This is a speaking valve.
A speaking valve can help with speaking. Air changes from going in and out through the tracheostomy tube. Instead, air goes into the valve and then when breathing out, the air is directed up through the mouth or nose. This allows Trachie-O to talk better! Not everyone with a tracheostomy tube can use a speaking valve. A clinician, such as a speech-language pathologist, who is an expert can help determine if a speaking valve can be used.
Trachie-O loves to teach tracheostomy to kids! Learning can be fun with Trachie-O.