Children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) may experience problems with breathing and clearing their lungs of mucus. In these instances, they may need a cough assist machine—but what is it and how does it work?
According to SMA Australia, a cough assist machine is designed to help people with breathing difficulties by removing lung secretions which may lead to serious infections. It is much easier for parents to use on small children than suctioning and some older children and adults are able to use the machine by themselves.
The machine has a mask that the patient puts over their mouth and nose, or can be used with a mouthpiece or tube attached to a tracheostomy tube. As the patient breathes in, the cough assist machine gives extra air which expands the lungs called “positive pressure,” then as the person exhales the machine then uses suction to withdraw the extra air from the lungs called “negative pressure.” This action forces the patient to cough deeply enabling them to shift mucus from their lungs. Find out more about the cough assist machine here.
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