The Covid-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented advancements in the medical devices industry, and respiratory support equipment has been the most obvious need among patients whose lungs have been severely affected due to the virus. One such unique device that has been developed targeting those suffering from respiratory conditions is AirPhysio. The Australian-made respiratory device, which helps clean the lungs of mucus and helps in lung expansion, was launched in India in 2022 and has been approved by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
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What Is AirPhysio? How Does The Device Work?
The hand-held device is presently undergoing clinical trials at the University of Sharjah on long Covid-19 patients and the MGM School of Physiotherapy in Mumbai for people coming off ventilator support to help them recover from pulmonary issues.
Speaking to ABP Live, Paul O'Brien, global CEO of AirPhysio, said there has been incidental evidence of the product helping those with long Covid. He also said studies have shown that people with lung cancer who have used the product could breathe without oxygen assistance after 2-3 weeks.
Explaining the technology behind the device, O'Brien said AirPhysio works like a cough mechanism and helps to clear the airways or any blockages that restrict lung capacity.
"When we cough, our laryngeal muscles contract to close the vocal cords and the diaphragm expands trying to push the air out. It builds pressure until the irritant is pushed out of the vocal cords. It helps to expel mucus and phlegm. The product duplicates this process," he said.
"It activates 15-35 mini coughs to help clear out and optimise the oxygen delivery system of your lungs. The product helps to create waves within the mucous, allowing it to travel up to your throat and cough it out naturally," he further said.
How Did The Device Fare On Usage?
Being an asthma patient myself, I put the device to use and tested it for three weeks to see if it was useful or just hype. The device has three basic components -- a steel ball, a circular cone and a protective cover. The box comes with two steel balls of different weights.
For using AirPhysio, one needs to simply breathe into the device with such force that one can lift the ball bearing slightly off the cone and have it oscillate.
However, during the first two days of usage I found it difficult to lift the steel ball off the cone. Even though a smaller ball of less weight has been included, there should be multiple balls of different weights so the device could be used easily by people like me with low lung capacity.
On the third day, I could finally lift the ball bearing off the cone and immediately felt vibrations within my chest as I exhaled out. After using the product for a week twice daily, I felt mucus accumulating near the back of my throat. It felt like lifting a weight off my chest.
However, one should not confuse the product with an inhaler and it does not improve breathing immediately. It takes about two weeks to feel the effect and for the accumulated mucus in your lungs to come out.
Priced at Rs 5,499, the cost of the device is a little on the higher side.
What Doctors Say About The Product
Infectious diseases specialist Dr Ishwar Gilada said the device will be helpful to people suffering from bronchial asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and also those recovering from post-Covid complications. "People with any chronic respiratory problems can use the product to clear thier respiratory pathways," Dr Gilada said.
He also said that the product could be bought over the counter because it is like a "physiotherapy" and "does not require medical assistance or help of a healthcare worker". "People can use this on their own," Dr Gilada further said.
However, he pointed out that the device was expensive for the Indian market than other comparable respiratory devices. "For example, a nebuliser machine that has motor and lot of equipment and wiring also costs Rs 4000-Rs 5000. So, I dont know why this hand-held device should cost so much," he said.
Dr Aashish Chaudhry, managing director, Aakash Healthcare, Delhi, said the device has far-fetched advantages for patients who have suffered severe lung insult due to Covid-19.
"In our hospital, we have been running a programme for chest physiotherapy for Covid patients. People who are suffering from long Covid are having real problems in day-to-day routine walking. Most of them are those who had at least 30 per cent of their lungs affected. They are coming back to the physiotherapy department to get their rehabilitation done for the chest. Devices like AirPhysio are handy to keep the lungs inflated and help in mucous secretions," Dr Chaudhry told ABP Live.
He said the product would be beneficial especially for the middle aged and elderly who have had moderate to severe Covid disease. Dr Aashish also said the device can be used by COPD and smoker patients to prevent aggravation of lung disease.
"During winter months, breathing becomes tough for these people and there is aggravation of mucous collection. Our pulmonologist used to see three times the demand for bronchoscopy during this period to remove the mucous plugs as compared to summer months. These devices are more of a preventive measure to avoid those patients landing up with a severe stage of pneumonia and then get hospitalised," he said.