Central Congenital Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS) is a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system’s control of breathing. Fortunately, Service Dogs can play a crucial role in improving the quality of life for individuals with CCHS. Continue reading to learn more about the various ways Service Dogs benefit individuals with CCHS and the specific tasks they can perform.


Understanding Central Congenital Hypoventilation Syndrome


CCHS is a life-threatening disorder that affects approximately one in 200,000 newborns. It is usually first apparent shortly after birth, although milder cases might not be detected until later. Infants born with the condition lack oxygen in the blood, which often causes a bluish appearance. 


Individuals with this condition have a reduced sensitivity to carbon dioxide levels in the blood, leading to shallow, inadequate breathing, especially during sleep. As a result, they are at risk of hypoxia (low oxygen levels), hypercapnia (high carbon dioxide levels), and other complications that can affect their overall health and cognitive development and lead to life-threatening complications, including brain damage and heart problems.


In addition, it may be difficult for people with CCHS to regulate their heart rate and blood pressure. They may also have a decreased perception of pain, low body temperature, and occasional episodes of heavy sweating.


The Role of Service Dogs in Managing CCHS


Service Dogs are specially trained animals that assist individuals with disabilities, including those with CCHS. They can be trained to perform specific tasks that can significantly improve the lives of people with CCHS.


  • Monitor Breathing Patterns


One of the most critical tasks Service Dogs perform for people with CCHS is monitoring their breathing during sleep. They can be trained to recognize changes in their handler’s breathing patterns. They can detect irregularities or pauses in breathing and alert the individual or their caregiver to take action, preventing serious complications and ensuring that the individual receives prompt medical attention. 



  • Respond to Medical Emergencies


A trained Service Dog can activate an emergency response system or fetch medication for a medical emergency, like respiratory distress. By providing timely assistance, Service Dogs can help reduce the risk of severe complications associated with CCHS.



  • Assist with Medical Equipment


Many individuals with CCHS rely on medical equipment, like ventilators, to assist with breathing. Service Dogs can be trained to help with tasks related to this equipment, including retrieving items like masks, tubes, or remote controls. They can also be trained to alert caregivers if there is a malfunction or disconnection of the equipment.


  • Offer Emotional Support and Reduce Anxiety


Living with CCHS can be physically and emotionally challenging, and individuals may experience stress and anxiety related to their condition. Service Dogs can provide emotional support and companionship, helping alleviate stress and promoting a sense of calm. In addition, a Service Dog can be particularly helpful for people with CCHS who experience anxiety, depression, or isolation.


  • Encourage Physical Activity and Social Interaction


Regular physical activity and social interaction are essential for individuals with CCHS to improve overall health and well-being. Service Dogs can promote exercise by engaging in play or accompanying their handler on walks. Additionally, Service Dogs can facilitate social interactions, helping people with CCHS build connections and foster a sense of belonging.


How To Obtain a Service Dog 


Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) breed Service Dogs and train them as puppies. By the time they’re nine months, they know several commands. They then undergo extensive training for 18 to 24 months before being matched with someone. 


Once a potential match is identified, each person's final training is individualized. When a client arrives for team training, the dog has had up to 1,500 hours of training and socialization. If you or a loved one has CCHS, contact Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to learn more or apply for a Service Dog.


Help Us Transform the Lives of People Living With CCHS (and Other Disabilities)


Service Dogs can significantly impact the lives of people with CCHS. From physical assistance to emotional support, they can provide the assistance needed to live independently and confidently. Having a Service Dog by your side means you can enjoy a better quality of life. Everyone can take part in helping people with disabilities with Service Dogs. Support us with a donation, bequest, planned giving, contributions to our wish list, or create a fundraiser. Your support can change someone’s life.