Research and evidence

As with all medical treatments, there are two primary ways to assess the safety, therapeutic effectiveness and cost efficiency of treating comprised airway clearance with high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO).

One is by reviewing the clinical studies and professional journal articles published by researchers and clinicians — experts in the science and practice of medicine. The second is by hearing from the patients, caregivers and medical professionals who have firsthand experience in receiving and prescribing the therapy.

For HFCWO, the body of research and evidence for treatment effectiveness and health-care cost savings is substantial and growing. Following is just a sampling of the clinical studies and literature that have focused on HFCWO treatment. You can visit Customer Stories to hear from patients, caregivers and medical professionals about their experiences with the SmartVest® Airway Clearance System by Electromed.

If you have questions or need more information about the proven medical and economic advantages of HFCWO therapy, contact Electromed.


HFCWO found effective in treating acute asthma, COPD

In a study of 52 adults hospitalized for acute asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), published in the journal Respiratory Research, HFCWO was well tolerated by patients and provided significant relief to their compromised breathing. Learn more.


HFCWO shown effective in patients post-thoracic surgery

People who’ve just undergone chest surgery may have limited ability to cough normally and therefore are susceptible to retained bronchial secretions, which can lead to pneumonia and other complications. At the same time, these patients are in a fragile state when it comes to receiving chest compression therapy to help clear excess mucus. In a study of 25 patients post-thoracic surgery, researchers compared HFCWO with traditional chest physiotherapy (CPT) delivered by a trained therapist. The study found HFCWO to be both safe and well tolerated in the two days immediately post-surgery. In fact, patients who expressed a therapy preference preferred HFCWO to CPT, more than two to one. Learn more.


HFCWO helps children with impaired airway clearance

Children with muscle weakness caused by cerebral palsy or another genetic disorder are susceptible to respiratory infections, owing to their inability to adequately clear respiratory secretions. In this study, a handful of such patients received twice-daily HFCWO therapy, supplemented by a cough-assist accessory called a mechanical insufflatorexsufflator. The result? Researchers noted a significant decline in the incidence, and therefore the cost, of antibiotic use, emergency room visits and hospitalizations among the patient group. Learn more.


HFCWO improves breathing in ALS patients

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is one of more than 400 known diseases and conditions that can impede the body’s ability to adequately clear secretions from the lungs. Researchers at New York City’s Mt. Sinai Hospital studied the effects of HFCWO therapy on respiratory function in 46 ALS patients. Their findings, published in the journal Neurology, included: “High-frequency chest wall oscillation was well tolerated, considered helpful by a majority of patients, and decreased symptoms of breathlessness.” Learn more.


HFCWO reduces health care costs by 49 percent

In one of the most significant studies of HFCWO’s potential as a cost-effective therapy option, researchers at Blue Cross Blue Shield studied health care expenses incurred by 23 patients afflicted with impaired airway clearance. During 12 months in which the patients received HFCWO therapy, the cost of providing them health care declined 49 percent compared with the previous 12-month period. Learn more.


HFCWO for neuromuscular patients: A case for reimbursement.

If you’re relatively new to the subjects of airway clearance and HFCWO, you’ll find this article highly informative. At the time of its publication, author Jan Stephen Tecklin was a physical therapist and a professor of Physical Therapy at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa. Tecklin’s paper summarizes the adverse health effects of compromised airway clearance; describes the mechanisms by which HFCWO shears, thins and mobilizes retained secretions; and notes some of the treatment advantages HFCWO offers over conventional chest physiotherapy, special coughing techniques and other, less-powerful treatment alternatives. Learn more.


HFCWO technique provides an improvement in both pulmonary function and quality of life in patients with bronchiectasis.

Bronchiectasis patients, like others with chronic lung disease, are often faced with decreased pulmonary function, inadequate pulmonary hygiene and poor quality of life. In a study of 30 patients with bronchiectasis, 10 were randomized to receive high frequency chest wall oscillation, 10 received other airway clearance therapy and 10 received medical therapy only. The results: HFCWO provided an improvement in both pulmonary function and quality-of-life-related parameters in patients with chronic hypersecretive disease. Learn more.