This article is written to explain how to use cough assist machines. It is not intended to take the place of training provided by your respiratory therapist or other health care provider.

Why Your Child May Need A Cough Assist Machine

Your body naturally produces mucus to help capture dirt and bacteria that enter your airways. Coughing is the body’s way of eliminating the secretions and keeping your body free of infection. When you cannot cough on your own or your coughs are not productive as is the case with many neuromuscular diseases, a cough assist machine can be used to cause strong coughs. These allow your body to eliminate the mucus and this prevents chronic infections.

Types of Cough Assist Machines and Measures

You can manually assist your child to cough by applying firm and rapid pressure to the upper abdomen. This should only be done with proper training and assistance. You may also be prescribed a mechanical or manual cough assist machine. Your doctor will prescribe how to use the machine and what settings to adjust the machine to. Your respiratory therapist or other health care provider will train you on the proper use of the machine and be available to help you get comfortable using the device.

How Mechanical Cough Assist Machines Work

The cough machine mimics your child’s cough cycle. It brings a large volume of air gradually into your child’s airways when they inhale. Once their lungs have expanded, the device will quickly reverse the flow to push the secretions out. Advantages of using a cough assist device include:

How To Use Cough Assist Machines

Set up the cough assist machine on a clean flat surface. Do not set on carpet or a rug. Make sure the power is plugged into a grounded outlet. Attach the filter and tubing from the front.

Always check the time and pressure to make sure they match your child’s prescription. This should be done prior to each treatment.

1. Exhale Pressure
Turn the device to the manual setting. Block the end of the hose with a gloved hand or gauze pad. Push the manual lever to exhale and hold while you are adjusting the pressure. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge and turn the pressure adjustment knob clockwise to increase pressure and counter-clockwise to decrease pressure.

2. Inhale Pressure
Use the inhale pressure adjustment knob on the right side of the device. While on manual setting, block the end of the hose with a gloved hand or gauze pad. Push the manual lever to inhale and hold while adjusting the pressure. Turn the knob clockwise to increase the pressure and counter-clockwise to decrease the inhale pressure. Note: the inhale pressure cannot exceed the exhale pressure.

3. Confirm the Pressure Settings
You can confirm the pressure settings by sliding the manual lever back and forth from exhale to inhale over and over again. Once you release the manual lever the pressure gauge should return to zero. If the pressure gauge does not return to zero discontinue use and call R.S.V.P. Home Care for instructions.

4. Adjust the Time Settings
Manual cough assist machines have no time settings. The cough cycles are controlled by sliding the control lever back and forth between inhale and exhale. Automatic cough assist machines have 3 knobs on the left side that allow you to set the time of the cough cycle. Set the duration of inhale, exhale and pause phase as directed by your doctor or respiratory therapist. An average inhale time for children is between 0.5-1.5 seconds and an average exhale time for children is 1 second or less.

5. After you check the pressure and time settings. Make sure the air intake ports are not blocked. Make sure the unit is not near blankets, curtains or heat sources.

6. Adjusting The Flow
If you notice the inhale air flow appears to be too little or too much you can adjust the airflow control knob: left to “full” or right to “reduce” the inhale airflow.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Cough Assist Device
You can clean the outside of the machine with a damp cloth. Never immerse the machine in water. After each use, the hose and patient interface should be washed thoroughly with mild detergent and water. Make sure the air hose is completely dry before using again. The tubing or mask should be replaced when they show wear or no longer work properly. The filter should never be washed. Continue using the filter and replace when it becomes full of secretions or moisture.

RSVP Home Care
RSVP supplies cough assist machines to all of Northern Kentucky, Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati Ohio. One of our highly skilled respiratory therapists can help train you to use the cough assist machine. Your child’s physician will prescribe the right pressure and cough cycle treatments for your child. Many times a manual cough assist technique is also prescribed to facilitate stronger coughs. A respiratory therapist is always available at RSVP Home Care to answer questions you have and assist you in using your cough assist machine.