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Information and Patient Support

Airway Clearance


At the end of the session, the participant will have:

  • Increased knowledge of the role and function of sputum and the mucociliary pathway in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Increased ability to recognise the signs and symptoms of a chest infection.
  • Increased understanding of airway clearance techniques with an emphasis on independent techniques.


This session may be facilitated by a physiotherapist.




Introduction to the role of sputum.Function of sputum.

Sputum in COPD.
Better Living with COPD (Ch 13).
How to recognise a chest infection.Signs and symptoms of an infective exacerbation.Signs and symptoms of chest infection.

Better Living with COPD (Ch 9).

Sputum expectoration (airway clearance).Active cycle of breathing technique (ACBT) or forced expiration technique (FET).

Risks and precautions with techniques.
Demonstration of ACBT and FET.
Better Living with COPD (Ch 13).
Role of humidification.Shower.

Other sputum expectoration techniques.Mucolytics.

Manual techniques.

Gravity assisted drainage.

Positive expiratory pressure (PEP) – mask / mouthpiece.

Oscillating PEP.

Role of exercise

PEP devices

– Mask / mouthpiece.

– Flutter VRP1.

– Acapella.
Summary and discussion. Screening of patients for individual assessment and instruction.