Exercise can also be used as part of your mucous clearance routine and will help to improve lung function and fitness.

Tips from Carol Polak – Founder of the PCD Family Support Group and a physiotherapist

Variety is the name of the game. Keep in mind your objectives when doing chest physio: Deeper breaths. Exercise to widen the airways, loosen secretions so they are easier to get out. Huffs, to help move secretions upwards. Maybe time upside down and side positions.

So what can you do as well as conventional chest therapy techniques? Tickling! Lots of laughter and giggles – they sound like huffs and certainly do a similar job! Older babies, toddlers and children enjoy a good tickle – but the child grows into a big teenager and will one day get his revenge. I have stopped doing this with my 16 year old as I am now the one that ends up on the floor being tickled! My son used to love being balanced on my feet as I lay on the floor. I could use my toes to tickle his tummy and we had fun trying to get him to balance without us both ending up in a crumpled heap. We weren’t very good, but it was a fun way of him being upside down huffing while we both had fun. Probably best to avoid doing this after a meal!

Games. Playing hide and seek with a toy car/doll/hand puppet whilst the child is upside down on the wedge doing chest physio postural drainage. Our hand puppet used to give physio instructions, sometimes in funny voices, daft instructions, or hiding under clothes or behind the wedge. We had a gaggle of different puppets, sometimes it got rather busy on the wedge and they had to do physio too. The puppet sat on his tummy in order to move in and out when tummy breaths (diaphragmatic breathing) were needed. Sometimes the puppet fell off with a loud scream when really good breaths were done, or sulked and disappeared when no movement happened. Remember that laughing is a bit like huffing, and if the child associates these physio sessions with fun, they are more likely to be co-operative next time. As they get older a funny video/TV programme may help – though concentration is likely to be lost.

Have you used blowing? Blowing anything: bubbles or cotton wool off a hand, or kazoos or blowing the hand puppet off the tummy or wedge. We had blowing competitions along the hall with the whole family. Out on a walk we would blow dandelion clocks and also have races. Hop, skip and especially, wheelbarrow races on summer days.

Hobbies. Encourage playing of wind instruments to develop strength and control of respiratory muscles and increase lung volume. Singing, in choirs, on car journeys, in the bath… wherever you won’t be arrested for disturbing the peace and quiet!

Exercise – lots! Swimming is especially good as it encourages deep breathing, breath control and loosens secretions. It can be done with friends, with lots of fun and laughter to make it even more beneficial. For those who have had ear operations I believe you can get specially moulded earplugs which can be used to enable you to swim. Swimming in the sea has the additional advantage in helping clear the stuffy nose. An easier option may be to use a nasal sea spray! Encourage any exercise that is enjoyed. Both adults and children will be more inclined to do something they enjoy: a team sport encourages commitment and a regular date in the diary. Gym helps to keep the rib cage and back strong, mobile and healthy. Meeting friends there may make an adult/teenager more likely to go! Adults – don’t forget an easy option is to go for a brisk run/scout’s pace/walk round the block! It doesn’t cost anything either. If you need to use a vasodilator do it before you exercise.

Reassess Physio As your child grows up the method of physio will need to change. So you perfect your technique but soon have to adapt it again. Stops you getting bored! There are gadgets that can be used by older children and adults to provide a bit of variety and to encourage the deep breathing, huff etc.

Updated March 2004

Where can I get a physio table from?

‘Postural Drainage Frames’ are available from:

JFC Engineering Ltd, Berna House, Hillbottom Road, Sands Industrial Estate, High Wycombe, Bucks. HP12 4HJ

Tel: 01494 447881 Website: www.JFC Engineering.co.uk

They cost £330 +VAT which includes delivery


There is also lots of information available on the British Lung Foundation website

Keeping ahead of COVID-19

Covid-19 is very unsettling for all of our PCD community – we will be regularly updating this page with latest information and ideas on how to keep yourselves entertained whilst self-isolating.