Chest physiotherapy is a treatment method that helps you breathe better by improving lung function. This technique clears out the airways to supply more oxygen to the body. For many people, breathing comes naturally. Patients with underlying conditions also struggle with this, no thanks to their blocked airways.
Some conditions cause mucus and secretions to block the respiratory system, making it hard to breathe. These liquids often trap bacteria that line your sinuses and make you sick. Healthcare providers use chest physiotherapy to treat conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia, and other pulmonary diseases that affect the respiratory system. If you have trouble with breathing, consult a physiotherapy clinic for help.
Here are seven chest physiotherapy techniques used to treat breathing conditions:
1. Vibration Physiotherapy Techniques
Vibrations is a chest physiotherapy technique that help break up and loosen lung secretions. Doctors use this method either manually or through special machines.
For the manual technique, the physiotherapist places a hand on the patient’s chest to create vibrations during exhalations. These vibrations happen when the arms and shoulders contract and relax at intervals. This manual process requires at least five sessions daily for the best result.
The mechanical method also involves creating vibrations. The patient puts on a special vest designed to build vibrations that loosen up the secretions. The physiotherapist uses an assessment tool to determine the point of vibration and the duration of the exercise.
2. Percussion Physiotherapy Techniques
Like the vibrations, this method also uses movements to break up lung secretions. However, instead of contractions, percussions involve using cupped hands to strike the chest and under the arms. This technique is painless and takes at least two minutes on both sides of the lungs. Patients should only do this on an empty stomach.
Like the vibration technique, percussion also uses mechanical tools. The tool hovers over one lobe of each lung while the patient performs breathing exercises for about five minutes. Afterward, the physiotherapist uses a suction tool to drain the loose secretions. However, this method is suitable for children above two years.
3. Controlled Coughing Physiotherapy Techniques
There’s a reason your chest feels lighter when you cough or clear your throat. For patients suffering from pulmonary conditions, however, this method helps them breathe easier. Through strategic coughing techniques, the lung secretions loosen so that oxygen can flow through the airways.
While sitting upright on a chair, the patient first inhales through the nose. Next, they exhale to break up the mucus through short coughs or puffs. The physiotherapist repeats this procedure several times for the best result. Since phlegm contains germs, the patient must prevent spreading bacteria by spitting and coughing into tissue paper. They must also wash their hands thoroughly after the procedure.
4. Deep Breathing Physiotherapy Techniques
Deep breathing provides relief from chest congestion. Whether you have a respiratory condition, deep breaths refresh your lungs and nasal passage with clean air. For chest physiotherapy, deep breathing allows the lung to expand and stimulates an improved supply of oxygen to your airways. Like controlled coughing, the patient must also sit upright on a chair during this technique.
They can also do this while lying down, depending on the level of discomfort. While breathing deeply through the nose, the patient must allow adequate air to fill the lungs and expand the belly before exhaling through the mouth. The physiotherapist might require you to make huffing sounds when you exhale. This technique is not suitable for children under eight years.
5. Flutter Valve Physiotherapy Techniques
Manual methods work well with relieving respiratory stress. However, devices like the flutter valve also do an outstanding job. The flutter wave combines different techniques to build several waves in your respiratory tract. The valve’s inner cone shape allows easy passage of air through your airways. However, doctors only recommend this method for children aged five years and over.
During this procedure, the patient must sit upright, placing their hands on the table to prevent slouching. While inhaling, you must keep your cheeks stiff to conserve energy. Hold each breath for two to three seconds with the device in your mouth. When the lung secretions loosen, take another deep breath and cough up the mucus after removing the flutter from your mouth.
6. Positive Expiratory Pressure Physiotherapy Techniques
Like the flutter, this technique also involves a hand-held device. It has a face mask attached with respiratory resistors. The positive exploratory method or PEP uses pressure from the mouth to clear your blocked respiratory tract. Rather than breathing in air, PEP applies force to the nasal passage when the patient breathes out.
This positive pressure allows air to reach all corners of the respiratory tract. Children aged four years above can experience this technique.
7. Postural Drainage Physiotherapy Techniques
Who knew gravity could power blocked respiratory tracts back to life? This technique uses this force to transport the secretions. When secretions block your airways, the central airways don’t keep a supply of oxygen and fresh air.
Through postural drainage, the secretions move from the smaller airways to the larger ones. Popularly used for bedridden patients, many chest physiotherapists combine this technique with the percussion model.
While supporting the head with a pillow, the patient will breathe in deeply so they can cough up the mucus from the center airway. Each position should take at least 10 minutes before switching to the next.