Chest physiotherapy is important because it helps to prevent the thick, sticky lung secretions from blocking the air tubes. This helps to reduce infection and prevent lung damage.
There are a wide variety of airway clearance techniques and Physiotherapist will assess a person with Chest infection and advise on the most appropriate technique to use, and also on the length and frequency of treatment sessions. The technique used may change as you get older or as your disease changes. The amount of mucus you clear will also vary as your disease progresses.
Some techniques are done without any equipment and focus on specific breathing exercises:
Active Cycle of breathing Techniques (ACBT)
Other techniques use a device to aid clearance of mucus, by using positive pressure to hold open the airways, and some also create vibrations within the airways:
Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP)
Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure - e.g Flutter®, Acapella®
The length of treatment sessions varies according to need. Daily physiotherapy is usually required and if you have a chest infection you may need to increase the amount of airway clearance you do. If there are few or no secretions, treatment sessions may only need to last 10-15 minutes. If there are many secretions, it could take as long as 45-60 minutes.
The number of treatment sessions should be varied. Most people do two a day when all is well, increasing to four a day when necessary. If no secretions are present, some people only need physiotherapy once a day.
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