As I've mentioned before, Dean has a hard time clearing out respiratory infections. Between his asthma and allergies and his propensity for getting pneumonia, it feels like we're always teetering on the edge of a hospital stay (and too often, that has translated into reality).
After Dean's last bout of pneumonia in March that scared the heck out of me (respiratory distress, anyone?), and then a recent scare again, we'd had enough. We went back to our pulmonologist, who we love (Dr. H. Joel Schmidt at Children's Hospital here in Richmond) and asked if we could get an HFCWO (high-frequency chest wall oscillation) airway clearance vest for Dean. You might have seen/heard about them in people with cystic fibrosis, but uses have been found for other conditions that affect respiratory secretions or the ability to clear those secretions. Other PWS families told us of how the vest really helped their child get through respiratory issues without it always ending in a hospital visit.
The trainer came today and we went through a complete treatment with Dean. Then we did another on our own before bedtime. Dean tolerated it REALLY well, and I think he actually likes all the shaking! Great sensory input. :) We are supposed to do 2 treatments (or more) a day, each for 20 minutes. It adds yet another medical device to our home (really, it's obscene how much medical equipment we have!) and another step in our routine of medications and procedures each day, but if it helps as much as we hope it will? It's worth it. We have a 30-day trial period in which we need to demonstrate that this is helping Dean and that he is tolerating it well, and then hopefully, insurance will cover it. The vest costs $16K!!! (eek!)
Here's a quick video so you can get an idea of what the vest looks like and does. You can't quite see how much it really is shaking him, and we also have it on the lowest recommended setting for Dean, but you get the idea. :)