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Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Spinal Cord Injury: Self-Assisted Cough

Spinal Cord Injury: Self-Assisted Cough

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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. If you have enough strength and balance, you may be able to do a self-assisted cough.

A self-assisted cough is done while you're sitting up in a bed or chair. If you are in a wheelchair, be sure to put the brakes on and use the seat belt. Wait 30 minutes after a meal before you do an assisted cough.

Use these steps to do a self-assisted cough.

Self-assisted cough, showing person sitting in chair with arms wrapped around belly and body bent forward.
  1. Wrap both arms around your belly, just below the rib cage.
  2. Lean back if you can. Take a deep breath and hold it.
  3. Cough. At the same time, quickly bend your upper body forward while hugging your belly.

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.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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Related Links

Living With a Spinal Cord Injury Spinal Cord Injury: Costophrenic Assist (Assisted Cough)

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