“Capno” means carbon dioxide. CapnoLearning™ is about learning and teaching CO2 regulation, adaptive respiratory chemistry, within a wide range of breathing mechanics. It means precision coordinating of breathing rate and depth through reflex control of the diaphragm, restoring control to the brainstem mechanisms that regulate breathing based on pH, carbon dioxide (PCO2), and oxygen (O2). This reflex mechanism can be easily deregulated, consciously or unconsciously as a consequence of learning. CapnoLearning™ is about setting the stage for reinstating this reflex mechanism.

CapnoLearning™ requires integrating knowledge of internal breathing with external breathing, chemistry with mechanics. Emphasis is on the relationship dynamics of breathing mechanics for achieving good chemistry, rather than on specific “mechanics” prescriptions. There is no inherently correct breathing rate, no correct depth, and no correct rhythm. Different breathing patterns, such as during the breathing acrobatics of talking or singing, serve different objectives.

The varied melodies of breathing mechanics must ultimately play the music of balanced chemistry.

CapnoLearning™ requires the use of a CapnoTrainer® a computer-operated capnograph designed for educational rather than medical applications, which provides real-time PCO2 feedback for observing, evaluating, teaching, and learning breathing behaviour. The practical guidelines of doing CapnoLearning can be organised into seven categories, all of which include evaluation, education, and training. Some steps are accomplished in parallel, some sequentially, and depending on training objectives, some not at all. CapnoLearning includes the following:

(1) Exploration: originating and sustaining factors and circumstances;

(2) Identification: dysfunctional breathing mechanics, when and where;

(3) Phenomenology: the experience of breathing and its effects;

(4) Knowledge-learning: understanding basic breathing concepts;

(5) Mechanics-learning: play dynamics for awareness of breathing as behaviour;

(6) Somatic-learning: play dynamics for awareness of the effects of breathing; and

(7) State-learning: breathing through consciousness.

CapnoLearning™ is about education, not about diagnosis and treatment. Professionals of all kinds can learn to be breathing practitioners, including healthcare practitioners, mental health practitioners, human service professionals, corporate consultants, and educators. In fact, most anyone can get involved. We all breathe. It is always important, however, to keep your eyes open. A referral may be in the making. Breathlessness, for example, is not just a sign of overbreathing, but may be a sign of cardiovascular compromise that requires immediate medical attention. Partnership with other professionals is always the wisest approach to helping people to learn new breathing behaviours.

CapnoLearning™

The CapnoTrainer® is a capnograph, a capnometer, an instrument used for monitoring exhaled carbon dioxide (CO2), more specifically End Tidal partial pressure carbon dioxide (ETCO2). Capnometers are used worldwide in emergency medicine, in critical care, and during surgery for monitoring purposes; these are medical applications.

The CapnoTrainer® provides for educational applications. The CapnoTrainer® has been specifically designed and manufactured for evaluating, observing, and learning breathing behaviour. It is not intended for diagnosis and treatment. The instrument is for CapnoLearning™, which is about you and your body learning new behaviours, as partners, in improving health and performance. Most anyone can get involved. We all breathe, and we all breathe differently based on our own personal learning experiences. The CapnoTrainer® makes CapnoLearning™ possible.

The CapnoTrainer® is a combination hardware-software system that provides for real-time computer displays of partial pressure carbon dioxide (PCO2) while breathing, both during the inhale and the exhale. During the inhale the instrument reads effectively “zero,” as there is only a very small amount of CO2 in atmospheric air, about 0.3 mmHg (mm of mercury) as compared to a total atmospheric pressure of 760 mmHg (at sea level). During the exhale it rises sharply to the average level of PCO2 in the alveoli (basic gas exchange units) of the lungs, rising very slowly during the transition from exhale to inhale (alveolar plateau), and eventually reaching a peak value immediately prior to the next inhale. This peak value of PCO2 can be thought of as the “End of the Tide” of air, or ETCO2. This waveform is a capnogram.

CapnoGram

In a lung-healthy and cardiovascular-healthy people End Tidal CO2 (ETCO2) is generally equivalent to alveolar Partial pressure carbon dioxide (PCO2), which is itself equivalent to arterial Partial pressure carbon dioxide (PaCO2). Low levels of PaCO2, a physiological condition known as hypocapnia, may trigger, cause, or exacerbate a wide variety of physical and mental symptoms and deficits. Hypocapnia is the consequence of overbreathing behaviour. When your breathing behaviour results in PaCO2 levels below 35 mmHg, you are considered to be hypocapnic: 30-35 mmHg is mild to moderate, 25-30 mmHg is serious, and 20-25 mmHg is severe hypocapnia. CapnoLearning™ is about learning breathing behaviours that improve PaCO2 chemistry (internal respiration).

The CapnoTrainer® computer display presents the waveform, or capnogram, in various graphical and digital formats, which allows you to observe air flow where even minor shifts in breathing pattern can be observed, e.g., gasping. It also presents live continuous updating of ETCO2 and breathing rate history graphs.