RT interviews Karen Gove, BA, RRT, clinical operational marketing manager for The Vest, Hill-Rom.

 The Vest™ airway clearance system is widely used in the home care and hospital setting to meet the needs of people with respiratory complications associated with more than 430 diseases and conditions, according to Karen Gove, BA, RRT, clinical operational marketing manager for The Vest, Hill-Rom, Batesville, Ind. RT spoke with Gove to find out more about The Vest’s use of high-frequency chest wall oscillation.

Q: What is The Vest system and how does it work?
The Vest system consists of an inflatable vest connected by tubes to an air-pulse generator. The generator rapidly inflates and deflates the vest, compressing and releasing the chest wall. This technology is called high-frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO). HFCWO generates increased airflow velocities that create repetitive cough-like shear forces and decrease the viscosity of secretions. These effects increase secretion mobilization.

Q: How does high-frequency chest wall oscillation therapy differ from chest physiotherapy?
Peer-reviewed studies demonstrate that HFCWO clears mucus and improves or maintains pulmonary functions more effectively than conventional chest physiotherapy. The Vest therapy treats all lobes of the lungs simultaneously and consistently and does not require positioning or breathing techniques.

Q: What are the airway clearance risk factors for which The Vest system is prescribed?
The need for airway clearance is not disease-specific, but may arise from a variety of risk factors that impair normal secretion clearance, including recurrent respiratory infections; mucus plugging and atelectasis; hyperproduction of secretions; abnormally thick, sticky secretions; ineffective cough; respiratory muscle weakness; increased risk for aspiration; immobility; restrictive lung disease; and artificial airway.

Q: How can RTs benefit from The Vest system?
This product is easy to use and requires minimal caregiver assistance, eliminating the risk of repetitive motion injury. Once the patient begins therapy, the respiratory therapist can attend to other duties during the 20- to 30-minute treatment session.

Q: What can RTs expect from Hill-Rom in the future?
Hill-Rom recognizes a responsibility to provide respiratory therapists with the clinical evidence they need to support the use of therapies like HFCWO. Hill-Rom will be investing in a variety of research projects to support both the clinical efficacy and economic value of our pulmonary product offering. We are always evaluating new technologies and looking for ways to bring down the cost of care for the acute and chronically ill pulmonary patient.