(photo by Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com)

Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball coach Michael Lotief was the recipient of a new tracheotomy device that is not even on the market yet. He is the first patient in the nation to get the device. Therapists at University Hospital and Clinics in Lafayette worked with the device manufacturer for over a year before the procedure last week in Lafayette. One of those therapists, Tammy Marks, joined Rob and Bernie on Acadiana's Morning News.

Lafayette General Health released a statement congratulating the team on the advancement:

The Speech and Occupational Therapy team at UHC met with Lotief to deliver a long-awaited promise. “I promised him he would be the first in the U.S. to be fitted with the ProTrach DualCare,” said Julie Bishop-Leone, Director of Clinical Education with Atos Medical, Inc.

The ProTrach DualCare is a valve that helps restore the natural heat and moisture in the lungs of patients with tracheostomies and enables them to speak.

Lotief began receiving therapy at UHC in July 2015 for swallowing and voice impairments. After an evaluation, a tracheotomy was performed in August of the same year. Since then Lotief has had a remarkable recovery, but has needed to “switch” between two devices in his day-to-day life.

“We’ve been emailing, calling and staying in touch with Atos Medical to see when the device would be available in the U.S.,” says Tammy Marks, Speech and Occupational Therapy Manager at UHC.  “Because, I knew he would be a perfect candidate for the ProTrach DualCare. He’s always in extreme conditions, kicking up dust on the softball field while using his voice in coaching and during games. So I knew this would be a perfect solution for him.”

Atos Medical is looking to receive feedback from Lotief about the device.  He exemplifies the type of active patient they hope will use this valve. The DualCare valve has a Heat and Moisture Exchanger (HME) that restores the natural heat and moisture to the airway that is lost when the patient can no longer breathe through their nose and mouth. This combination with a one way speaking valve provides a “hands-free” method for speech. It also provides a hygienic barrier for those with a stoma.

Congrats and get well soon to Coach Lotief.