What is Chest Physiotherapy?

While many people are familiar with physiotherapy more broadly, not as many are aware of chest physiotherapy. And that’s a shame, because studies have shown that chest physiotherapy can actually help patients reduce the length of time they’ll need to stay in mechanical ventilation. 

So what exactly is chest physiotherapy

Essentially, chest physiotherapy (also known as CPT) is a type of physiotherapy that involves airway clearance techniques that can drain mucus and restore lung functions

This can be used to help treat a number of conditions, including: 

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Lung abscess

  • Pneumonia

  • Neuromuscular disorders

  • Bronchiectasis 

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • And more

So what does chest physiotherapy involve? 

Chest Physiotherapy and Vest Physiotherapy

While you may find treatment relating to mucus to be either gross or unimportant, it can actually play a big role; studies have shown to have positive short-term effects on increasing mucus transport, which can impact patients receiving critical care, as mentioned above regarding mechanical ventilation.

So how do they achieve these results? 

One method is through manual CPT. This typically involves the physiotherapist clapping the patient using a cupped hand and massaging using a flat hand against the back to help dislodge any mucus in your lungs and positioning your body so that gravity can help drain the loosened mucus from the lungs into larger airways

You’ll be asked to lie down on your back, right or left side during the process. It’s worth noting that there are a variety of manual chest physiotherapy techniques, including: 

  • Percussion and postural drainage (mentioned above)

  • Autogenic drainage

  • Active cycle of breathing technique (ACBT)

  • Positive expiratory pressure (PEP) 

  • Oscillating PEP 

While all these methods differ in specifics, the common thread that they all share is they involve manual therapy that can help reduce mucus build-ups and blockages, which in turn helps restore lung function and open airways. 

Another method that physiotherapists and respiratory therapists use to help patients with their mucus buildups is through high-frequency chest wall oscillation. Essentially, this involves an inflatable vest that is attached to a machine. The machine then makes the vest vibrate at high frequencies, which helps to loosen mucus that has built up. 

The process usually involves about five minutes in the vest by the patient, followed by coughing and huffing to help dislodge blockages and mucus. The entire session can take up to about 30 minutes. 

Physical therapy that involves a chest physiotherapy vest has been proven in clinical trials to be effective. 

So now that we have a basic understanding of chest physiotherapy (and vest physiotherapy) how do you know when you need it? 

When Chest Physiotherapy Is Right for You

If you’re having trouble breathing and find that you’re producing more mucus than usual, then chest physiotherapy could be an effective way to help restore your lung function. 

What’s more, by dislodging the mucus buildup, you may also end up preventing more dire infections while also helping to reduce coughing overall.

Learn More About Physiotherapy and How It Can Help Treat Your Symptoms:

Of course, if you suffer from any of the chronic conditions mentioned in the first section, it’s worth speaking to your doctor or seeking out a chest physiotherapist to see if they can help you manage your symptoms. 

Having said all that, there are some instances where chest physiotherapy may not be right for you. 

For instance, if you experience severe discomfort when touched around your chest or when your body is repositioned during manual chest physiotherapy, then it is definitely not for you. 

If you’re taking anticoagulation drugs, then you may not be suitable for chest physiotherapy. 

If you’re recently experienced a rib or vertebral fracture, then it’s usually best you avoid these treatments as they involve direct contact with those areas. 

Patients with severe osteoporosis also ought to avoid chest physiotherapy due to physical contact. 

Overall, chest physiotherapy can have a positive effect on many patients, and it’s worth looking into if you experience any of the above symptoms or conditions. Make sure to find out how many times a day you should get cupping.

Get Chest Physiotherapy From an Expert Team

What Is Chest Physiotherapy?

If you believe that chest physiotherapy can help you, then visit White Pine Health for a free consultation. 

Our expert clinical practice providers will help you identify if chest physiotherapy can help treat your symptoms.

In addition to manual and vest physiotherapy, we provide a full range of physiotherapy and rehabilitation services in the Brampton area and throughout the GTA. Our priority is building a tailored health journey that is built upon patient-centered treatments. 

In other words, we never take a one-size-fits-all approach, and instead, work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that works. 

White Pine Health also offers virtual physiotherapy sessions, so that you can receive the care you need right from the comfort of your own home. Contact us to book a free 20-minute video session today!

Tahmineh (Tammy) Kamza

Physiotherapist Dry Needling Provider Hydrotherapist   Tammy graduated from the University of Toronto with an “Honors in Science” and obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in the United States. Her thesis, ‘Effects Of Exercise In Falls Prevention In Community-Dwelling Older Adults’ took almost 2 years to complete. She finished her manual therapy designations from trained professionals of St. Augustine University in Florida. Finally, got her Dry Needling certification from the prestigious organization Kinetacore, a leading post-graduate program in North America. Aside from manual therapy and dry needling, she is well versed in hydrotherapy, taping and corrective exercise. She is a true believer in active therapy, thus her treatment goals always include an emphasis on physical activity with aim of improving client’s functional abilities.

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