Modelling of the biophysics of chest physiotherapy



Mucus stagnation and oversecretion in the lungs increases the risks of infection and obstruction of the bronchi. Chest physiotherapy is used to help the secretions to get out whenever mucus stagnation occurs. Chest physiotherapy is based on pressures applied on the thorax that transmit into the lung. An air flow is created in the bronchi and is hypothesised to motion the mucus. Recently, controverted studies have criticised chest physiotherapy efficiency and its potential risks have been highlighted. Because the discipline is empirical, the debates cannot be constructive as of today. These questionings could have serious consequences in term of public health and economy at a time when social securities aim to reduce their spending.


The inner mechanisms involved in chest physiotherapy are either unknown or not been confirmed scientifically. Our goals are thus to understand the underlying biophysics involved in chest physiotherapy in the frame of bronchiolitis and cystic fibrosis, and to bring to practitioners a reliable scientific tool to be able to resolve the controversies they are facing, and to characterize and improve the techniques used in their community. We setup a numerical model of chest physiotherapy based on thorax and lung physiology and on their respective biophysics and biomechanics, supported both by theory and experiments. The model is validated thanks to physiotherapists and physicians feedbacks, and to specific measurements.


  • Laboratoire JA Dieudonné, Université Côte d’Azur/CNRS (Mathematics)
  • Laboratoire IRMA, Université de Strasbourg (Mathematics)
  • Institut de Physique de Nice (INΦNI), Université Côte d’Azur/CNRS (Physics)
  • Laboratoire MSC, Université Paris Diderot (Physics)
  • Laboratoire SYMME, Université de Savoie (Mecatronics)
  • Service de Physiologie – Explorations Fonctionnelles – CPPS, Hôpital Robert Debré (Medicine)
  • Private chest physiotherapists

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