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Cystic Fibrosis Care Center

Treatment Options

Vest Therapy (High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation)

The "vest" is a machine made up of two parts: an air-pulse generator and an inflatable vest that wraps completely around the chest. The air pulse generator creates rapid bursts of air that make the vest inflate and deflate against the chest wall. The vibration of the vest against the chest wall helps to loosen mucus. The vest creates an airflow that helps to move mucus from the airway walls. For therapy to be really effective, huff coughing and regular coughing must be done during and after the treatments.

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Using the Vest

The vest works most effectively when it is used correctly. Follow these steps for best results:
  1. Put the vest on over a thin layer of clothing
  2. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the vest covers as much of the upper chest as possible (but without digging into your armpits)
  3. The bottom of the vest should extend to just above the hip bones
  4. Adjust the closure clasps so that when you take in a deep breath, a hand can fit comfortably between your chest and the vest
  5. Press the "on" button to inflate the vest
  6. As the vest inflates, grab the bottom of it with both hands and pull down to prevent the vest from sliding up and digging into your armpits

Helpful Hints for Vest Use

  • To avoid problems with your stomach, try to do your vest treatments before meals or no sooner than one hour after meals
  • Do your vest treatments two times a day: in the morning when you wake up, and again in the afternoon or evening
  • Increase your vest treatments to four times a day whenever you are sick or feel yourself getting sick
  • Medications that may be given during vest treatments include Albuterol, Xopenex, Atrovent, Intal, Pulmozyme and hypertonic saline
  • Some patients find it helpful to moisten their airway secretions by taking nebulizer treatments with normal or hypertonic saline after other medications are taken
  • If itching occurs, try wearing a couple of cotton T shirts under the vest
  • Have your vest machine and inflatable vest evaluated yearly to ensure it is working properly and that you have the correct vest size
  • Keep your vest clean by wiping it down occasionally with a disposable sanitizing cloth
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