Postural drainage is getting in positions that make it easier for mucus
to drain. Chest physiotherapy is gently "clapping" parts of the body to remove
mucus from the lungs. They are often used together in conditions such as cystic
fibrosis or a spinal cord injury (SCI) to help loosen and remove mucus from the
lungs. When mucus collects in your lungs, it increases your risk for lung
infections, such as pneumonia.
Following are general instructions
for chest physiotherapy and postural drainage. Talk to your doctor about the
positions you should use and how long how to do it.
Be sure your back is covered. Wear a shirt or
blouse, or cover your back with a towel.
Hold each position for 5
minutes to help the mucus drain from your lungs.
For each position,
your caregiver claps your back quickly and rhythmically. Your caregiver bends
his or her hand at the knuckles to form a cup. The arrows and ovals in the
above illustrations show where to clap.
When your caregiver claps,
you should hear a hollow sound. If you hear a slapping, the hand is not cupped
Do not clap over the spine.
Morning is the best time to do postural drainage, because it
helps clear mucus that has built up during the night. It may also be done just
before bed to decrease nighttime coughing. Do not do it soon after a meal,
because this may increase the chance of vomiting.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.