What is incentive spirometry?
Incentive spirometry uses a device to encourage sustained deep breaths in. The incentive spirometer device consists of a mouthpiece connected to a chamber in which one or more small balls lie, this provides the patient with the challenge of optimal inspiration (maintaining a deep breath).
To operate the incentive spirometer, you must put the mouthpiece into your mouth and inhale deeply; the challenge is to maintain flotation of the ball/s between the markers on the side of the device that have been agreed between you and your respiratory physiotherapist. You will be encouraged to maintain this breath in for a set number of seconds, before breathing out slowly.
Once the technique has been perfected you will be encouraged to use the device independently as part of your daily routine. This will allow you to train your respiratory system, strengthen your respiratory muscles and get you into the habit of regularly attaining optimal lung volumes.
What are the benefits of incentive spirometry?
Incentive spirometry is particularly beneficial as it provides visual feedback on flow and volumes. This means you are able to use it independently within your home to perfect the ideal breath in. By regularly engaging with the challenge of perfecting the technique, lung volumes will be increased, respiratory function enhanced, and secretion retention diminished meaning respiratory infections are much less likely to occur. It also has the following additional benefits:
- Lightweight and portable
- Can be used as a tool to enhance the effectiveness of other breathing techniques such as active cycle of breathing and deep breathing exercises.
- Visual feedback provides a challenge that makes using the device fun and motivating
Who would benefit from incentive spirometry?
Incentive spirometry will benefit people who require an effective deep breath in to help loosen secretions or improve lung volumes as a result of a respiratory condition. The device requires a degree of comprehension and ability to actively participate in the challenge. Respiratory conditions that may benefit include:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Surgery – particularly cardiac, thoracic or abdominal