• TheDisabilityExpert

Breathing Exercises vs Cough Assist Machine for secretion clearance.

Updated: Apr 9, 2020


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The answer is easy: if the patient has a strong enough cough that allows secretion clearance, then breathing exercises such as the Active Cycle of Breathing Technique could be effective. However, if the patient struggles with secretion clearance due to a weak cough secondary to the patient being poorly, or suffering from commodities such as spinal cord injury then the use of a cough assist could be appropriate. Cough assist allows for increased lung volumes (due to a setting called inspiratory pressure: it feels like your head is stuck out a car window while the car is moving) as well as assists with bringing the secretions up during expiration (due to another setting called expiratory pressure). Some newer devices also have a setting called oscillation that allows for vibratory- like sensation during expiration which is suggested to assist with secretion clearance.

In some cases breathing exercises can be used in conjunction with the use of a cough assist machine almost like a warm- up technique.

It is clear though that when someone struggles with secretion clearance he needs to consult a qualified healthcare professional who can provide individualised advice and intervention: a thorough assessment of the patient's condition is required prior to prescribing any of the above- mentioned interventions.

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