What is Chest Physiotherapy and How Does it Work?

What is Chest Physiotherapy and How Does it Work? We're glad you asked. In this post will explain those questions and more.

Respiratory Therapy at Stilwell involves a range of services that collectively support this service, and Chest Physiotherapy (CPT) is just one element of the overall respiratory provision we provide. 

Chest Physiotherapy Explained 

Essentially, this is an airway clearance technique which entails physically percussing a chest wall in order to clear any built-up mucus in a person’s lungs.

It is usually performed by a qualified respiratory therapist or a caregiver. 

Manual chest physiotherapy can be utilized for patients who are living with conditions that mean the lungs cannot naturally clear mucus of their own accord.

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Such conditions could include respiratory infections or chronic respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, bronchiectasis, or cystic fibrosis; it may also be used to help treat patients with acute trauma, such as fractured ribs.

What is the goal of Chest Physiotherapy?

There is a range of goals that CPT aims to satisfy. 

  • maximize lung compliance
  • prevent a lung from collapsing
  • reduce the work it takes to breathe
  • enable the removals of retained or profuse secretions of the airway
  • maximize the perfusion-ventilation ratio and/or increase gas exchange

How does Chest Physiotherapy work?

There are two different ways that chest physiotherapy can be delivered, namely, Manual CPT and Vest Therapy

Manual CPT is whereby a caregiver or therapist will manually clap on a person’s chest wall to assist with the loosening of any mucus in order to help it move towards the airways. 

Vest Therapy is a type of treatment that takes places through a high-frequency chest wall oscillation therapy vest, HFCWO for short.

Once in place, this involved repeated pulses of air that intraoperatively tighten and release the upper body of the patient.

This process helps to both thin and loosen mucus from the lungs; making it easier to get bring up. 

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When is Chest Physiotherapy needed?

There are certain lung conditions which could, in left untreated, be considered as life-threatening. As such, respiratory therapy is designed to help, specifically in cases where a patient has a condition that increases secretions (sputum) in a person’s lungs.

A Doctor may provide a referral for chest physiotherapy for certain medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, bronchitis, or pneumonia; in cases where they feel it would be beneficial.

Other cases where Chester physiotherapy can be called upon to help are those which cause the development of mucous plugs.

This is when a specific area of a person’s lung fails to inflate correctly as the air is blocked from passing through. Restrictions to airways can also result from conditions such as emphysema or asthma.  

How Can Chest Physiotherapy Help?

Respiratory therapy will typically use a range of chest physiotherapy techniques, such as specific positioning, breathing techniques, percussion techniques, and airway clearance techniques.

They may also use assistive devices, depending on the condition they are treating. Essentially, the goal is to help you breathe more easily and restore the quality of your breathing. 

The team at Stilwell Memorial Hospital are here to help, and we provide tailored treatment plans in accordance with your individual needs. We’re here for you, please call or message us today and let’s have a conversation about our range of respiratory therapy treatments. 


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