A year at U of R

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chest physiotherapy

Today I did chest physiotherapy on a patient with cystic fibrosis. I've done it several times now with both pediatric and adult patients. The process is also called "cupping". It involves holding your hands like cups and then beating your patient's chest and back hard and fast with both hands for 20 minutes, with the patient in different positions. It helps to loosen thickened bronchial secretions. It is also a pretty good work-out for the person doing the cupping.

It is very bizarre walking past a room where someone is receiving cupping. It sounds like a blend of massage and karate going on inside. It is one of the few very low-tech therapies, but it's kind of fun to do. It's one of the few procedures that you can practice at home on your friends, and they'll still be your friends.

In the unit I am on right now, the repiratory therapist does the cupping. Generally, the patients have it done four times a day. I was watching the respiratory therapist, asking her questions about her technique. "Do you want to do some?" she asked, so I jumped in.

"How am I doing?" I asked my patient after a few minutes. "What grade do I get?"

My patient laughed and gave me passing marks.