FAQs – Airway Clearance Therapy

What is airway clearance therapy?

Strong lungs play an important role in staying healthy. One function of the lungs is to secrete mucus to trap inhaled fine particles and harmful bacteria, viruses, and spores. Once trapped, these harmful particles are removed as mucus naturally moves them out of the lungs. 

Many diseases and conditions impair the ability of the system to regulate mucus secretion and to clear it thoroughly from the airways. Conditions include but are not limited to:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cystic fibrosis (CF)
  • Neuromotor/neuromuscular disorders (e.g., Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy)
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD)
  • Quadriplegia/high-level spinal cord injury

As a consequence of poor secretion clearance, contaminated mucus builds up in the lungs and airways. Retained secretions promote development of serious complications including:

  • Inflamed airways
  • Chronic cough
  • Lung congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased exercise ability
  • Respiratory infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung damage
  • Respiratory failure

A treatment called airway clearance therapy is prescribed to help clear airway secretions when they are not being evacuated naturally. Retained airway secretions promote development of pulmonary complications and progressive lung disease. Airway clearance therapy can help counteract these harmful processes.

What is the difference between high frequency chest compression and high frequency chest wall oscillation?

High frequency chest compression (HFCC) and high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) are both terms used to describe vest therapy in which a vest garment is attached to a machine that creates vibrations to the chest that help loosen and thin mucus.
High frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) is commonly used to refer to vest therapy that uses sine-wave technology.

inCourage® Airway Clearance Therapy is typically referred to as high frequency chest compression (HFCC). However, an important distinction is the use of triangle wave pulses in the inCourage System vs. sine wave technology used in other vest therapy systems.

The air pulse produced by the triangle waveform in inCourage Airway Clearance Therapy is more effective than sine wave forms used in other vest therapy devices. A triangle waveform creates a more precise pulse from a steep rise and fall in pressure. In a comparison with vest therapy systems using other waveform technology, triangle waveform pulses produced a 20% volume increase of mucus cleared.1