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Vibralung Acoustical Percussor: What Is It and How Can It Help?

Vibralung Acoustical Percussor: What Is It and How Can It Help?

FinalVibralungDeviceWhiteFor years, airway clearance therapy (ACT) involved clapping, with cupped hands, on the chest and back to promote mucus clearance. Then came oscillating chest wall devices like the Vest and vibratory positive expiratory pressure (PEP) therapy devices like the Acapella. To date, there’s a new sound floating on the air waves that’s said to promote safe, effective and gentle ACT like no other alternative. The Vibralung Acoustical Percussor is an airway clearance therapy device that applies vibratory sound waves during the breathing cycle over a wide range of frequencies to loosen mucus in the air passages making it easier to expectorate (cough up).

How Does Vibralung Work?

According to Westmed Incorporated, the Vibralung Acoustical Percussor uses sound waves as its fundamental operating principle. These sound waves, manifested as quasi-musical tones and random noise, are generated by an electronic signal generator and reproduced with a high fidelity loud speaker.

Using a simple mouthpiece assembly, the Vibralung Acoustical Percussor generates sound energy to vibrate the column of gas in a patient’s air passages during both the inspiratory (inhalation) and expiratory (exhalation) phases of breathing. As the patient breathes normally through the mouthpiece, acoustic sound waveforms are superimposed over normal respiratory waveforms and travel throughout the lungs (similar to the ripple effect) via the conducting airway system (from the back of the throat to the smallest bronchioles). The application of this technique requires little effort on the part of the patient because the sound waves pass through normal respiratory pressure waves during resting breathing.

Who Should Use Vibralung?

The Vibralung Acoustical Percussor is recommended for patients with respiratory diseases and related conditions that involve:

  • Increased mucus production
  • Infection and thickening of mucus
  • Defective mucus clearance

These conditions are usually seen in patients with cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, pneumonia, ciliary dyskinesia, asthma, muscular dystrophy, post-operative atelectasis plus neuromuscular respiratory impairments, thoracic bellows defects and any other heart and lung or neuromuscular disorder that inhibits an effective cough, mucokinesis (the normal movement of mucus from the lungs to the back of the throat), airway clearance and expectoration.

Unique Advantages of Vibralung

Along with being easy to operate and battery powered, the Vibralung Acoustical Percussor:

  • Is lightweight and portable; easy to travel with
  • Requires only minimal patient effort with normal breathing
  • Produces no patient discomfort; no contact with the external chest wall
  • Can be used as sole therapy or as adjunct therapy to other ACT methods/devices
  • Has optional simultaneous aerosol delivery for medications
  • Incorporates PEP
  • Works during both phases of the breathing cycle

Treatment with Vibralung

A single treatment with Vibralung Acoustical Percussor lasts 10 minutes although some patients may take two treatments back to back for a total treatment time of 20 minutes. The optimal position for taking a Vibralung treatment is sitting upright in a chair. As patients become more familiar with the device, other positions may be assumed as tolerated.

There are 5 control settings ranging in frequency from low, medium and high, to R2 and R5 (2 to 5 minutes of random noise). Patients may take a single treatment on low, medium or high, or alternately, a treatment on low followed by medium, or medium followed by high. Although there is no single right or wrong protocol, the manufacturer states that low should always precede medium and medium should always precede high.

How Do I Purchase the Vibralung Acoustical Percussor?

The Vibralung Acoustical Percussor can be purchased directly from certain medical distributors that handle Westmed products. The order must include a physician’s prescription for use and, if simultaneous use of the aerosol drug delivery system is also desired, must include a prescription for this as well. More information can be obtained by calling 800-975-7987 to speak with a Vibralung clinical specialist who will help you determine if the Vibralung Acoustical Percussor is indicated and how you can go about ordering it.

Westmed Inc. “Vibralung Acoustical Percussor: The New Sound of Airway Clearance Therapy”. Accessed 10/23/2015.

By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN


4 thoughts on “Vibralung Acoustical Percussor: What Is It and How Can It Help?”

  1. Avatar Justin Casson says:

    How is the vibralung different from the vest?

    1. Web Admin Web Admin says:

      Hi Justin, Vibralung provides static PEP (Positive Expiratory Pressure) to offer mild passive hyperinflation of the lungs. Vibrating vest therapy does not. Hope this helps!

  2. Avatar Michael McPeck, RRT (Westmed, Inc.) says:

    The vest is worn around the chest and vibrates the chest wall externally through essentially mechanical means. The mechanical vibrations are conducted through the skin, fat, muscle and bone of the chest wall and eventually into the lungs. The Vibralung is interfaced directly to the airways, through a mouthpiece, mask or tracheostomy adapter and applies soundwaves to the airways as the patient passively inhales and exhales. The sound wave pulses cause the airways and mucus to vibrate, and the mucus to loosen from the airway surface by what's known in acoustics as "sympathetic resonance". Like your windows rattling when you turn your stereo up too loud. Only the Vibralung does it by matching its acoustic tones to the different resonant frequencies of the various airways of all sizes. A modest amount of PEP is applied, not to cause hyperinflation of the lungs but to slightly slow down the expiratory phase of breathing and provide a slight amount of airway dilatation in conjunction with the sympathetic resonance. A pediatric CF patient said that she likes the fact that the Vibralung vibrates just her lungs, rather than her entire body. That was one of the best descriptions of the difference between vest and Vibralung that we have heard.

  3. Avatar Colleen Smith says:

    I work in a Critical Assess Hospital in Washington State. We do not have an ICU and transfer all our patients who are not doing well. We began using the Vibralung a few weeks ago. All 3 patients were in danger of being transferred due to upper respiratory infections or worsening pneumonia. 2 out of 3 of those patients were discharge to home within 48 hours of starting the Vibralung. They made remarkable progress and loved the way they felt after using it.

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