Spinal Cord Injury: Costophrenic Assist (Assisted Cough)
A strong cough is important to help clear the lungs of mucus. If you have a weak cough or a lot of mucus, you may need an assisted cough.
In a costophrenic assist, another person pushes on your rib cage to help you cough. This is done while you are sitting up in a bed or chair. If you're in a wheelchair, be sure to set the brakes and use the seat belt. Wait 30 minutes after a meal before you do an assisted cough.
Use these steps to do a costophrenic assist.
- Your caregiver places their hands on the lowest part of your rib cage, with their fingers wrapped around your sides and their thumbs pointing toward the center of your chest.
- You take a deep breath and hold it until the caregiver tells you to cough.
- When you cough, the caregiver quickly and firmly squeezes your ribs, pushing down and in and holding for 3 seconds. It may take practice to coordinate your cough with the motion.
Talk to your doctor before trying this. Some people shouldn't try an assisted cough. This may include those who:
- Are in pain.
- Have a chest or back injury, such as an unstable spinal injury or a broken rib.
- Had recent surgery.
- Have osteoporosis.
- Are pregnant.
Current as of:
February 13, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Nancy Greenwald MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Current as of: February 13, 2023
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Nancy Greenwald MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation