Objectives: Pulmonary infections are common in children with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. High frequency chest wall oscillation with the vest therapy (VT) is used to promote pulmonary clearance and to prevent pneumonias in cystic fibrosis patients. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the effectiveness of VT in patients with quadriplegic cerebral palsy who reside in pediatric skilled nursing facilities.
Methods: Seven individuals with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, who had frequent pulmonary infections were identified (age range: 7-28 years; median 19 years; 2 females and 5 males). Five had a tracheostomy and three an active seizure disorder. Clinical data was collected for 12 months before starting VT and during 12 months of VT.
Results: The total number of pneumonias that required antibiotics decreased from 36 per year before VT, to 18 during the year of VT (P < 0.05). The number of hospitalizations due to pneumonia decreased from 9 to 3. With VT, the frequency of effective suctioning of pulmonary secretions was significantly increased (P < 0.01). In the patients with epilepsy, with VT, the average monthly frequency of seizures decreased from 4 to 1, from 9 to 2, and from 9 to 1.
Conclusion: VT resulted in more effective suctioning of pulmonary secretions, reduced incidence of pneumonia, and reduced number of hospitalizations for pneumonia. In patients with epilepsy, VT resulted in reduced seizure frequency. VT was tolerated well, without complications or side effects. Further clinical investigations of the use of VT in cerebral palsy are indicated.