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25 April, 2017

How to Save a Choking Victim – When You Can't Use the Heimlich Maneuver

The LifeVac Choking Aid Solution

choking victim

Have you ever been with someone while they were choking on a piece of food? Or have you yourself ever had something so stuck in your throat that you couldn't take a breath? You try to cough, hoping to clear your windpipe, but you can't cough, or can't cough enough to clear it. At first, you're startled, then frightened, then frantic. You have no voice and must scream, "Help me!" – yet you cannot utter a sound.

You wave your arms to get someone's attention and make the universal sign for choking by holding one or both of your hands in front of your throat.

You hope that someone will come up behind you and use the Heimlich Maneuver® so that you can finally breathe again...

But – if you are wheelchair bound because of Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, or some other reason, the Heimlich Maneuver® can be difficult or impossible to successfully perform when you are choking.

This is where the new LifeVac Choking Aid may be able to come to the rescue.

What is the LifeVac Choking Aid?

LifeVac Choking Aid

The LifeVac Choking Aid is an affordable, easy-to-use suction apparatus to help remove a foreign substance blocking the airway of a choking victim when standard choking protocols cannot be used or have been unsuccessful.

In those situations, the LifeVac Choking Aid can provide peace of mind to parents and caregivers, giving them a life-saving choking solution for a patient or loved one for whom the Heimlich Maneuver® is not an option.

It is ideal for high-risk potential choking victims: children (over 40 lb.); the elderly; those with dementia; the wheelchair-bound; those with Neurological Conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Muscular Dystrophy (MD), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Amyotrophic Laterals Sclerosis (ALS) aka "Lou Gehrig's disease," Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc.

How does the LifeVac Choking Aid work?

When someone is choking, LifeVac recommends that standard choking protocol be followed. These are the steps:

1) Perform the Heimlich Maneuver® – if possible, but if not possible (e.g., you can’t get your arms around the victim, due to obesity, pregnancy, or the choking victim is wheelchair bound) or if unsuccessful, then proceed to Step 2.

2) Use a back slap to attempt to dislodge the obstruction – and if unsuccessful, then proceed to Step 3.

3) Use the LifeVac Choking Aid to remove the obstruction in the choking victim's airway.

LifeVac recommends certified training in BLS (Basic Life Support) Protocol, including choking protocol and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). Follow all BLS Protocols first and call 911. If all BLS Protocols are unsuccessful or cannot be used, proceed using the LifeVac Choking Aid, exactly following all instructions for use (including practicing prior to use).


For those who may be unfamiliar with Step 1, which is the Heimlich Maneuver®:

Heimlich Maneuver Step 1

Choking Victim & Heimlich Maneuver® Image Credit:

"Situation: A choking victim can’t speak or breathe and needs your help immediately. Follow these steps to help a choking victim:

1) From behind, wrap your arms around victim’s waist.

2) Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against victim’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage, and just above the navel.

3) Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into victim’s abdomen with a quick, upward pressure. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands.

4) Repeat until object is expelled."

Excerpted from "How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver®" on a standing choking victim when rescuer’s arms can reach around the choking victim.


The Heimlich Maneuver® works on Pascal's Principle to push the foreign object out of the airway. By applying force to the choking victim's abdomen, there is an increase in internal pressure that is transmitted to their throat to dislodge the food they were choking on – in much the same way that squeezing a tube of toothpaste at the bottom will cause the toothpaste to squirt out the top (that's right, there's no need to squeeze it in the middle – unless you just want to annoy your spouse!).

The LifeVac Choking Aid, with its unique push-pull design, works the opposite way of the Heimlich Maneuver®. The LifeVac device uses suction to pull, rather than push, to dislodge the obstruction causing the choking. The LifeVac's one-way valve prevents pushing the food or object downward, using suction to clear the airway of the choking victim.

The LifeVac Choking Aid is FDA Registered as a Class II medical device and does not require a prescription. It has become an additional, new lifesaving tool for EMT and First Responders, such as the Police and Fire Department, as well as for home use.

LifeVac founder and CEO Arthur Lih

Pictured: Ray Cooney, Firefighter and host of Firehouse Kitchen with Arthur Lih, Founder and CEO of LifeVac.

LifeVac's Founder and CEO, Arthur Lih, visited MaxiAids recently to demonstrate the LifeVac Choking Aid to our Sales and Customer Service Departments and answer our questions.


LifeVac Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):


Q: Is choking a rare occurrence?

A: Unfortunately not. Research shows that choking is a leading cause of death in children and a leading cause of accidental deaths in the elderly over the age of 65. According to the National Safety Council, in 2015, over 5,000 people died from choking – more than half were older than 74. And over 100 million Americans have no defense against aspiration emergencies due to pregnancy, disability, obesity, or just being alone.


Q: Why not just call 911 when someone is choking?

A: When there's an emergency, calling 911 is always a good idea – but the average emergency response time ranges from 7 to 11 minutes. However, brain cells begin to die after one minute without oxygen. Brain damage and eventually brain death is the inevitable outcome if oxygen deprivation is allowed to continue beyond five minutes.


Q: Is the LifeVac Choking Aid intended to replace the Heimlich Maneuver®?

A: LifeVac is not intended to replace any of the standard choking protocols. The LifeVac Choking Aid is intended to be an additional tool when the Heimlich Maneuver® is impossible to use or has been unsuccessful in clearing the choking victim's airway.


Q: If the Heimlich Maneuver® doesn't work, then how can the LifeVac Choking Aid possibly work?

A: The negative (suction) pressure generated by the force of the LifeVac is approximately 3 times greater than the highest recorded abdominal thrusts (which is used in the Heimlich Maneuver®). The LifeVac generates over 300 mmHg of suction. However, the duration of suction is minimal – so the LifeVac Choking Aid is safe as well as effective.


Q: Has the LifeVac been tested and published in any medical journals?

A: The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published an independent study documenting the LifeVac Choking Aid's effectiveness in removing an obstruction from a blocked airway.


Q: Can the LifeVac make the choking situation worse by pushing the obstruction farther down?

A: No, because the LifeVac has a patented design with a one-way valve to vent the air outside the face mask rather than into it when pushed down. This creates a one-way suction to dislodge the obstruction.


Q: Is there any chance that using the LifeVac might break the choking victim's ribs like some other first aid procedures may?

A: No. The LifeVac does not require the use of any external force on the abdomen or anywhere else near the rib cage.


Q: Will using the LifeVac damage the choking victim's lungs?

A: No. The pressure created by the LifeVac is approximately equal to a really good cough.


Q: If necessary, can I use the LifeVac on myself?

A: Yes.


Q: Will the LifeVac Choking Aid work on an adult with a moustache and/or beard?

A: Yes.


Q: Is the LifeVac Choking Aid difficult to use?

A: The LifeVac is not difficult to use but practice is recommended prior to using it. It comes with a Test Mask for practicing the procedure, as well as both an Adult Mask and a Pediatric (40 lb. and up) Children's Mask.

LifeVac Choking Aid Procedure Graphic

Q: How many choking incidents can the LifeVac be used for?

A: For the utmost in safety and reliability, it is best to use the LifeVac Choking Aid device once per choking incident and then replacing the unit.


Q: Has the LifeVac Choking Aid actually saved any lives?

A: Yes, in fact the first life the LifeVac saved was in 2016. The woman, a resident at a nursing care home in Wales, was choking on her lunch. An attendant cleared the woman's airway with one press-and-pull of the LifeVac. Luckily for that woman, the facility had ordered the LifeVac Choking Aid after another resident had choked to death earlier that year – and just received the device two days earlier.


Q: What's LifeVac's best feature?

A: For high-risk choking victims and those who care for them, the LifeVac Choking Aid is a peace-of-mind, in-case-of-emergency-break-glass Plan B – a fallback option when all else fails or when there is no other option – and much more than just a Hail Mary play because it has been proven to work.


MaxiAids has been serving the deaf, the hard of hearing, the blind, those with low vision, as well as seniors, and the disabled for the past 30 years as a leader in providing assistive devices for independent living.

Click here to order the LifeVac Choking Aid.


17 April, 2017

Iron Deficiency Anemia Linked to Hearing Loss, New Research Says

A link has been discovered between iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and hearing loss, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, "Association of Iron Deficiency Anemia With Hearing Loss in US Adults." 

Hard of Hearing

Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine’s Kathleen M. Schieffer and her research team studied 305,339 men and women with ages ranging from 21 to 90 years old and discovered a positive association between iron deficiency anemia and both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Out of those studied, 4,807 had hearing loss and 2,274 had iron deficiency anemia.

The study concluded that iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is tied to hearing loss, with the authors stating, "An association exists between IDA in adults and hearing loss. The next steps are to better understand this correlation and whether promptly diagnosing and treating IDA may positively affect the overall health status of adults with hearing loss.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

"Many of the signs and symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia apply to all types of anemia.

"The most common symptom of all types of anemia is fatigue (tiredness). Fatigue occurs because your body doesn't have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to its many parts.

"Also, the red blood cells your body makes have less hemoglobin than normal. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells. It helps red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

"Anemia also can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, coldness in your hands and feet, pale skin, chest pain, weakness, and fatigue (tiredness).

"Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency may include brittle nails, swelling or soreness of the tongue, cracks in the sides of the mouth, an enlarged spleen, and frequent infections."

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services: National Institutes of Health (NIH)


NOTE: Resist the urge to self-diagnose. If you suspect you are anemic, please visit your doctor for a professional opinion.

Anemia and Hearing Loss Research

The risk for sensorineural hearing loss, which affects nerves in the inner ear, was 82 percent higher in those who are iron deficient. There was a risk, though a lesser risk, for those with conductive hearing loss, which affects problems in the ear canal, eardrum or bones of the middle ear. Out of the over 305,000 people studied, 132,551 were men with an average age of 50 years old. The study found a 1.6 percent prevalence of combined hearing loss and 0.7 percent prevalence of anemia.

Further research is needed to conclude whether screening and treatment for anemia amongst adults can impact the risk of hearing loss for future hearing care patients. The reason this research is so valuable is because having a better understanding of iron deficiency anemia’s link to hearing loss can help with early detection to allow time for appropriate treatment.


MaxiAids has been serving the deaf, the hard of hearing, the blind, those with low vision, as well as seniors, and the disabled for the past 30 years as a leader in providing assistive devices for independent living. Browse our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Store 



03 April, 2017

Deaf American Honored by United States Postal Service

Robert Panara Commemorative Distinguished American Postage Stamp  

Have you heard of Robert Panara?

He was a respected teacher, poet, and pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies. Panara became deaf at the age of ten when spinal meningitis took his hearing away.

Robert Panara Postage Stamp

Panara had a distinguished education, graduating "from Gallaudet College, the first deaf college to be allowed to grant degrees, and then became the first deaf person to receive a master’s degree in English from New York University." [The Economist]

Born July 8, 1920 in the Bronx, he passed away on July 20, 2014 at the age of 94.

His life was long and deep with significance for the deaf community.


"Blindness cuts people off from things,

but deafness cuts people off from people."

– Helen Keller


Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, once said, "Blindness cuts people off from things, but deafness cuts people off from people." As we all know, her life of writing and communicating with people – on her own terms – eloquently disproved that saying. However, it poignantly expresses the truth of the significant challenge and potential isolation uniquely faced by the deaf.

To say that Robert Panara was an advocate for the education and inclusion of the deaf so that they would not be cut off from people would be to understate his contribution and lasting legacy to that community.

A Shakespearean scholar, Panara developed some of the first plays for deaf actors and audiences. He was instrumental in founding the National Theater of the Deaf in connection with the American School for the Deaf.

For almost twenty years, Panara taught English and Drama at his alma mater, Gallaudet. He also taught at a private nonprofit school, the New York School for the Deaf, known as Fanwood.

In addition, he helped found the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Teaching literature at NTID, he was the first deaf professor in higher education in America. These are just the headlines, the merest whispers, of his contributions to deaf culture and education.

As well as being a noted educator, Panara was a well-known writer in his day. In 1946, he published his most famous poem, "On His Deafness."

It begins in a style reminiscent of John Milton's famous poem, "On His Blindness":

"My ears are deaf, and yet I seem to hear
Sweet nature’s music and the songs of man
For I have learned from Fancy’s artisan
How written words can thrill the inner ear
Just as they move the heart, and so for me
They also seem to ring out loud and free.

It concludes with an amazing Keatsian sensuality, arousing in the mind's ear sounds normally denied the ears of the deaf -- but able to be heard clear as crystal by those who read it enthralled by the magic of its words and evocative imagery.

"In silent study I have learned to tell
Each secret shade of meaning and to hear
A magic harmony, at once sincere,
That somehow notes the tinkle of a bell,
The cooing of a dove, the swish of leaves,
The raindrop's pitter-patter on the eaves,
The lover's sigh, the thrumming of guitar,
And, if I choose, the rustle of a star!

USPS Robert Panera Distinguished American Stamp Invitation

To its credit, the United States Postal Service has chosen to honor Robert Panara as its 16th stamp in the Distinguished American series.

This stamp's issuance coincides with the 200th anniversary of the founding in 1817 of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, which marked the beginning of formal education for deaf students in America.

The United States Postal Service has extended a cordial invitation to the public to attend the First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony being held in Rochester to commemorate the Robert Panara Two Ounce Stamp. Details are below.


Robert Panara Stamp Dedication


Tuesday, April 11, 2017 10:00 a.m. EST


Robert F. Panara Theatre
Rochester Institute of Technology
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Lyndon Baines Johnson Building
52 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5604



If you're interested, the stamp is now available for pre-order on the USPS website.

Robert Panara Two Ounce Stamp

Robert Panara

Two-Ounce 70¢ | Sheet of 20

The 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series honors Robert Panara (1920-2014), an influential teacher and a pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies. The stamp features a photograph of Panara taken in 2009. He is shown signing the word “respect.”

During his forty-year teaching career, Robert Panara inspired generations of students with his powerful use of American Sign Language to convey Shakespeare and other works of literature. His contributions to the field of Deaf Studies included influential articles he wrote in the 1970s on deaf American writers and deaf characters in modern literature, and the book Great Deaf Americans (1983).

Panara taught at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., for nearly twenty years beginning in 1948, and at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (part of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State) from its founding in 1967 to 1987. He was one of the founders, in 1967, of the groundbreaking National Theatre of the Deaf in Waterford, Connecticut, which provided deaf actors with a venue for thriving in the performing arts.

Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with an existing photograph by Mark Benjamin, official photographer of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The words "Two Ounce" on this stamp indicate its usage value. Like a Forever® stamp, this stamp will always be valid for the rate printed on it.

Made in the USA.

Issue Date: April 11, 2017

Art Director/Designer: Ethel Kessler

SKU: 114004

#PanaraForever #DeafEducation