If your body produces too much mucus, or you suffer from an illness such as cystic fibrosis or neuromuscular disease, your body can struggle to remove the mucus.
If this is the case, high-frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) is an excellent, non-invasive airway clearance technique that loosens the mucus in your lungs and makes it easier to clear it out. There are two main components to HFCWO therapy: an inflatable vest and a high-frequency machine.
How does an HFCWO vest work?
HFCWO treatment uses vibration to break up mucus and carry it up and out of your upper airways, either through coughing or suction. You wear an HFCWO vest over your torso to create the vibrations. The frequencies intensify to loosen and thin mucus and separate it from the walls of your lungs so it can be expelled. A therapy session typically runs from 20 to 30 minutes, with the patient pausing every five minutes to cough and clear mucus.
What types of HFCWO vests are available?
Traditional air-bladder vests feature plastic hoses that attach to an air-pulse generator, which produces bursts of air to inflate and deflate the vest rapidly. That causes vibrations to reach your airways. The unit must be plugged into an electrical outlet, so it is ideal for home use.
More recent mobile HFCWO vests are battery-powered, so you to take them anywhere for on-the-go treatment. A mobile vest works without a generator or hose attachments for freer movement. And since no electrical outlet is needed, you can take the vest anywhere.
How can I get an HFCWO vest?You must have a prescription from a physician to get an HFCWO vest. If you have a specific disease that can benefit from using an HFCWO vest, your insurer may reimburse you for the cost. Check with your insurance to see if you are eligible for coverage.
Who can benefit from an HFCWO vest?HFCWO helps alleviate some of the symptoms associated with various respiratory and/or neuromuscular diseases, including:
- Cerebral palsy
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy
- Cystic fibrosis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Disorders of the diaphragm
- Spinal cord injury