Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) Therapy
In order for adequate lung function to occur, the alveoli fill and discharge exchanging nutrients with the bloodstream. These alveoli sacs can be constrained by obstructions or trapped air leading to decreased function, pneumonia, and even failure. Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) therapy uses intermittent pressure to clear air and obstructions into larger pathways for the patient to expel them. This relief of pressure occurs normally in healthy patients, but may require specialized devices for compromised individuals.
How Positive Expiratory Pressure Therapy Works
The intermittent pressure added on exhalation drives air into the alveoli forcing out secretions and trapped air. This forced movement directs undesirable elements to the larger airways so they can be coughed out by the patient. In addition to clearing the airways, reception of medications is increased when PEP is combined with nebulizer treatments.
Positive Expiratory Pressure Therapy has paved the way for a variety of devices designed to clear the airways and restore normal pulmonary function. These devices include: the flutter valve, the PEP valve, and the Acapella.
The Flutter Valve - essentially a pipe with a perforated cover, the flutter valve uses an internal cone with a ball resting on top to create oscillation in the lungs. As the patient exhales into the stem of the flutter valve, the ball raises from the top of the cone. Throughout the breath, the ball will raise and lower creating oscillations that are transferred throughout the lungs creating Positive Expiratory pressure.
PEP Valve - using the principle of expiratory pressure, a PEP Valve allows for inhalation through a mouthpiece and then exhalation through tubing creating resistance. The tubing runs through a manometer to gauge exhale pressure.
Acapella - combining the previous two methods, the Acapella takes Positive Expiratory Pressure therapy a step further by providing more comprehensive treatment and versatile adjustment. A patented rocker arm inside the unit maintains pressure much like the PEP Valve while creating oscillations as found in the flutter valve. By means of a dial, the amount and frequency of pressure can be adjusted to suit individual patient need.
The goal of Positive Expiratory Pressure Therapy
PEP is great for relieving COPD, cystic fibrosis, asthma, and other pulmonary conditions from alveolar pressure. The forcing out of undesirable elements allows the body to naturally cough out secretions increasing comfort and aiding in healing.