How to Best Work With Your Respiratory Therapist

It can be difficult to find time for daily CF treatments in your already jam-packed lives, but your respiratory therapist can help.

| 2 min read
Mary Lester, R.T.

There are many therapy options for aiding in mucus movement and removal, including chest physical therapythe vestoscillating expiratory devices (e.g., acapella®, AeroBika®, FLUTTER®), vibrating technology, breathing techniques and exercise.

As the respiratory therapist (RT) on an adult CF care team, I have spent the past 16 years collaborating with my patients on which of these methods works best for them, and how they can fit their airway clearance techniques (ACTs) into their busy lives.

Not every therapy works for every person, and the method of airway clearance that works one day may need to change on another day. More often than not, you'll need to experiment to find the right technique -- or techniques -- that works best for you.

Your RT's job isn't just to help you learn how to do your ACTs; it's also to help you find the best ACT or combination of ACTs for you.

We know that your lives are hectic and that adding another daily CF treatment can make it even more so. It's also part of our job to help you with this by sharing what we know from our experience and what we have learned from other people with CF.

For example, most devices on the market offer a 30-day trial period. This is a great way to see if a certain device can benefit you. Use it, and figure out if helps move mucus. If it doesn't, send it back. If it does, let's work together to fit it into your daily routine and find ways to pay for the device. It can be one more weapon in your airway clearance arsenal.

By working with your RT, you can learn from each other and come up with plans for your type of CF lung disease. Together, you can learn what methods work and what don't, and discuss how to fit this into your daily routine.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Care Team | Airway Clearance

Mary is a respiratory therapist who is currently working in adult CF care at Keck Medical Center of USC in Los Angeles, Calif. She moved there from Charleston, S.C., where she had worked on pediatric and adult CF teams for more than 15 years. Mary has worked on numerous projects with the CF Foundation, including the Pulmonary Guidelines Committee, Adult Benchmarking Team, CFRT Mentoring Program, NACFC Planning Committee and the CF Adult Mentoring Project. She has published several papers on CF respiratory care. Mary's professional passion is working with people with CF to help make their tremendous therapy load effective and reasonable so they can live a full and happy life.

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