Chest Physical Therapy

Chest physical therapy (CPT) is a treatment for patients with diseases of the lungs and/or air passages. It is also called chest physiotherapy. This therapy removes the excessive secretions from the lungs by moving the secretions into the upper airways. This enables the secretions to be coughed out. CPT reduces the chances of lung infections and makes breathing more comfortable. It is usually needed for a short period of time. CPT may be needed longer in patients with chronic breathing problems. Chest physical therapy consists of:

  • Postural drainage.

  • Chest percussion.

  • Deep breathing exercises.

  • Chest vibration.

  • Assisted coughing.

CPT is often done in the morning. This helps to remove the secretions collected during the night.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Intake of food less than an hour ago.

  • Injuries to the spine and chest wall.

  • Brittle or broken ribs.

  • Coughing up blood.

  • Lung conditions.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Heart attack.

  • Recent surgery.

  • Open wounds or burns.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Increased pressure inside your head.

  • Heart problems.

  • Pain or injury to the ribs.

  • Heartburn.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

Your caregiver may do an exam before recommending an effective CPT technique. You or your child may be taught certain positions that are best suited for draining the secretions.

TREATMENTS AND PROCEDURES

  • Postural drainage. The patient is placed in certain positions where gravity helps to drain the mucus from the lungs into the bigger airways. This is where it can be easily coughed out.

  • Chest percussion. This is also called cupping or clapping. It involves rhythmically striking the chest wall with cupped hands. Percussion helps break up thick secretions in the lungs so that those secretions can be more easily removed. It may be done along with postural drainage. The caregiver might use mechanical devices for this procedure. Each area that is to be drained is normally struck for 3-5 minutes.

  • Chest vibration. This technique uses vibrations produced by the caregiver's hands to break up the secretions of the lung. This procedure may be done along with postural drainage and percussion. It is always done while you are breathing out through your mouth. Chest vibration is repeated several times in a day for 3-4 exhalations.

  • Controlled or assisted coughing. This method of CPT breaks down the thick mucus secretions and increases the cough pressure to expel the mucus.

  • Deep breathing exercises. This helps expand the lungs and distribute air to all sections of the respiratory system.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

The caregiver may reassess the patient to evaluate the treatment.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Avoid CPT an hour before or after eating.

  • Avoid CPT on surgical wounds, bare skin, bony projections, spine, breasts, and breastbone.

  • Avoid taking deep breaths in quick successions and coughing with your head down during CPT.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You or your child develops a recurrent cough.

  • You have a severe headache.

  • You have vomiting.

  • You feel disoriented.

  • You have pain around your ribs.

  • You have trouble using any recommended medicines.

  • You develop unexplained fever more than 100° F (37.8° C).

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You develop severe chest pain.

  • You develop worsening problems with breathing

  • You faint.

  • Your child develops high fever more than 102° F (38.9° C).

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.