How a Cough Assist Machine Works

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by Wendy Henderson |

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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?

What are the three main symptoms of spinal muscular atrophy? Find out here. 

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. 

Dr. Yuan talks about the role of cough assist machines in treating children with SMA.

SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.