The diagrams included in this gallery portray a series of postural drainage positions to help COPD patients drain each segment of the lungs. To be most effective, postural drainage should be accompanied by chest physiotherapy, which includes chest percussion and vibration, deep breathing and coughing.
Once a patient assumes the correct postural drainage position, the caregiver performs chest chest percussion and vibration to the desired location on the chest wall (this location is clearly marked by a shaded area in each of the 10 positions). Chest physiotherapy is generally performed for 3 to 5 minutes on each segment. During this time, the patient is encouraged to take a slow, deep breath followed by a vigorous cough in an attempt to clear the airways of mucus. This technique should be repeated several times during the chest physiotherapy session.
It is important to note that some postural drainage positions may cause an increase of heartburn and acid reflux and/or vomiting, particularly those positions where the head is lower than the stomach. Not only can this cause discomfort and possible wheezing, but vomiting may lead to a lung infection which may cause further lung damage. If you experience these symptoms during postural drainage, talk to your doctor about alternative methods of clearing your airways or read: A Complete Guide to Airway Clearance Techniques.