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People with compromised airway clearance are typically prescribed a combination of drug therapies, chest physical therapy (CPT), special coughing positions and techniques, and one or more of several cough-assist accessories.
If these regimens fail to provide adequate relief, or a patient continues to experience infections and other complications caused by an inability to clear mucus from the airways, the treating physician may prescribe a more powerful therapy: a medical device that delivers high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO).
HFCWO technology consists of a wearable vest surrounding an inflatable air bladder, a programmable air compressor and a hose (or hoses) connecting the two. The patient dons the vest and turns on the compressor, which delivers a rapidly repeating pulse of air, alternately squeezing and releasing the upper body. Each squeeze simulates a “mini cough,” which acts to:
- Loosen mucus from the walls of lung airways
- Reduce the thickness of mucus
- Propel mucus toward larger airways, where it can be expectorated or suctioned
Suitable for patients of all ages, from full-term newborns to senior citizens, HFCWO (also known as high frequency chest compression, HFCC) typically becomes a vitally important part of a patient’s daily, long-term treatment routine. Patients usually self-administer two 15- to 30-minute HFCWO sessions daily, with the system programmed to deliver five to 20 compressions per second, as directed by their doctor’s prescription.
Treating chronic conditions and acute cases
HFCWO has been prescribed for more than 400 diseases and conditions, spanning neuromuscular and immune disorders, paralysis, functional airway deformities, pulmonary infectious diseases, and chromosomal or genetic disorders.
HFCWO is routinely prescribed for cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis and neuromuscular conditions. A growing number of physicians also prescribe HFCWO therapy for acute, inpatient cases. For example, hospitals routinely rely on HFCWO devices to improve bronchial drainage in organ transplant patients, and to treat patients susceptible to pneumonia in intensive care and post-surgical units.