Many conditions can affect the pulmonary system of the body, chiefly the lungs. The conditions are generally assembled under chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), where there is a requirement for clearing airways blocked or jammed by the secretions like mucus. Considering this condition, a therapist opts for a chest percussion to aid in clearing airways jammed by the mucus, through which breathing is relieved. The accumulation of mucus in the breathing passage leads to the difficulties that are faced while breathing. People experiencing such conditions face a hard time breathing. Hence, chest percussion is administered where a therapist or any other being (potentially a close-one companion or a loved one) claps on the chest or the back of the body. Through this clapping, the inbuilt mucus gets loosened in the lungs’ airways as a person begins to cough it up. The clapping over the area generates an energy wave that further travels to the lungs and airways.
The therapy is administered with the help of the cupped hands of the therapist or, which generates enough force to thicken the secretions that get build in the airway. Besides, there are some instruments, including electrical as well, that are used in chest percussion. The instruments are used to generate power over the affected area with the help of the vibrating tendency.
Chest percussion comprises clapping on the chest or back done with the help of cupped hands or any electrical instrument that helps relieve the breathing, while the mucus secretions that block the airways loosen and clear the passage. It is a part of chest physical therapy (CPT) where the mucus is also loosened from the lungs or airways. Therefore, it has a wide range of applications on patients suffering from different pulmonary conditions where the secretions accumulate in the airways. Some of the conditions include the following:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Procedure of percussion
The cupped hands over the chest area provide relief to the patient experiencing difficulty IN breathing. Clapping on the chest with cupped hands allows the air to be trapped alternately between the thorax of the patient and the hands of the therapist or any other person cupping the hands. It is well considered that the force applied on the body should be equal with hands in the correct position following body mechanics. Following this, the air gets trapped rhythmically over the airways, particularly lungs, where the mucus secretions build up.
During this process, while the air is trapped, the secretions or mucus are loosened with an increased area in the airways that allows it to move freely. The phenomenon corresponds to mucus loosening over the area from the walls of the lungs. The respiratory phases, inspiratory and expiratory, are both considered favorable to opt for this procedure. However, the best position in which the chest percussion confers the best results is the gravity positioning.
Preparation and risks
Some suggestions and guidelines need to be followed while undergoing chest percussion to obtain desirable results and ensure patient satisfaction and comfort. Some of the common steps incorporated are as follows:
It is only applied over specific areas, like ribs, sides of the chest, and the back area.
The position in which the percussion is applied should be comfortable for the patient.
Towel use is recommended in this technique to ensure a patient’s comfortability.
There is a need to organize a proper level at which it is performed, considering the body’s mechanics. Improper body positioning or angles may correspond to any injury in the process.
A relaxed way must be adopted with the movement of the shoulders or elbows.
It is generally considered a safe practice. However, there may be some rare cases of complications, as follows:
It may result in a decrease of oxygen in the blood; a condition called hypoxemia.
Bronchospasm (tightening of the muscles of the bronchi) is a possible complication related to the technique.
There are feeble chances that it may damage the internal organs if not applied correctly and carefully.
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