• USACFA

Research Corner: You Can Help Shape Airways Clearance Technique Education

By Ella Balasa



Airway clearance is a vital daily aspect of maintaining lung function and stability in those of us with cystic fibrosis. Here in the United States, the primary form of airway clearance is using the Vest therapy. In Canada and Europe, the Vest is used infrequently and PEP devices and breathing exercises are the main forms. A lot of patients are unaware of alternative forms of airway clearance in the US because of the lack in education and resources in clinics and dependent on localities.


As someone who has primarily used the Vest since it’s development, I have received minimal information and training on other techniques through my clinic. Rather, through my own research and communications with others in the CF community, I have gained some knowledge of IPV, Vibra lung, percussors, active cycle breathing, and autogenic drainage. Although I use breathing techniques occasionally, I lack sufficient knowledge of these other forms of therapy.


In close collaboration with teams of physicians and other healthcare professionals, a series of educational resources are being developed for care teams across the country for patients who use airway clearance and are open to adding a different option to their daily routine.


How can you participate?


A survey has been created that assesses realistic use and knowledge of airway clearance devices and techniques among those with CF to tailor airway clearance education and resources to our needs and the gaps in knowledge, adherence, and priorities for care.


Please complete the survey by following this link and share with your CF community contacts: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CF-ACT-assessment


The results of this survey will help clinicians treating patients to provide structure and efficiency on discussions around airway clearance options. The information from this survey will be anonymous and used to help inform care teams using an evidence-based approach and best practices around airway clearance discussions.


It’s designed to bring teaching aids and other conversation resources to clinicians to bolster what they know about airway clearance. How can respiratory therapists understand more to in turn educate their patients? Patient needs are of most importance to optimize airway clearance so what could be preventing patients from doing their airway clearance? How do clinics create an action plan to encourage or enable someone to do it more regularly?


Please help optimize and improve airway clearance across the country!

About the Author: Ella is a director for USACFA. She is 27 years old and was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 18 months old. She has a B.S. in biology and has worked in an environmental microbiology lab.


Within the CF community, she serves on various research committees, planning virtual events, and writing to provide a scientific voice and encourage empowerment to the CF community as well as introspectively writing about the increasing hardship yet countless triumphs that come along with living a life with a chronic disease. When she is not taking care of her health, she enjoys cooking, drawing, spending time with friends, and traveling as much as she can. Follow her life experiences on Instagram @thisgirlella.

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*The CF Roundtable does not give medical advice. Any medical opinions represented in these articles are those of the writer and do not represent the views of USACFA, any of our community partners, or any other group or individual. We strongly suggest you consult your doctors regarding any medical references and before altering your medical regimen in any way. USACFA does not endorse any products or procedures. 

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© United States Adult Cystic Fibrosis Association 2019

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