Smart Vest?

Posted , 7 users are following.

Does anyone with lung issues have an airway clearance system, sometimes called a Smart Vest?

Did Medicare pay for it?

Did you have to pay a co pay or your supplement pay it?

0 likes, 20 replies

20 Replies

  • Posted

    Yes, I have a SmartVest. Medicare paid (except what is a HEFTY copay because it's an expensive machine) because i met the requirements. I don't remember all of them, but you have to have had a certain number of AB rounds within some defined period, and then there is the question of whether there's someone available to pound on your chest instead. I live alone with a dog so that wasn't an issue. I think I had to demonstrate that a flutter or Acapella had been prescribed and hadn't worked, also. At the time of those phone interviews, it could still take hours-to-days of huffing & coughing to clear one glob of mucus, while anyone listening could tell there was plenty more in my lungs.

    I do think that a proper hand pounding may be more effective. Certainly for me myofascial release therapy on spasms in my back helps more, tho that's not available more than once or twice yearly.

    IF you go online and buy it yourself, your pulmonologist needs to work out your treatment settings. Mine wrote the orders and a resp therapist for the company brought me the machine, did the settings, and showed me how to use it. About once yearly i need replacement vest, hose & filter.

    • Posted

      you don’t know how helpful that’s been to me! Thank you for sharing!

  • Edited

    I had a smart vest but found it not very helpful in cleaning the airways or in preventing worsening of my bronchiectasis. I find that exercise or postural drainage works better with less fuss. My pulmonologist ordered the system through Medicare . It did not cost me anything because my secondary insurance paid the rest. It was on rental with the insurance paying monthly for a year. Storing it and pulling it out every day was difficult. I live in a very small space. The company was helpful in trying to make it work but in the end I found it too noisy and cumbersome and asked to return it.

    Good luck. Let us know what you decide to do.


    • Edited

      Oh yes, it is heavy! As i use it 3 or 4 times daily, i keep it out. I remember how heavy it is when i travel.

      As to noisiness, it's not as loud as my nebulizer. With both of them, i mostly leave my hearing aids in my ear but turned off, as they block out a lot of decibels just filling the ear canal. This helps save the hearing i still have. For anyone who doesn't have hearing aids, i suggest earplugs or noise canceling headphones.

      My mucus is too thick for postural drainage alone, plus i can't do the most important position. The smartvest works best if you lie down wearing, opposite from where (most of) your lungs' dead spaces are. Mine are on my back so I lie on my stomach as much as possible in treatments. Pulmo says lying across bed w/head hanging off the edge would be best; can't do that due to completely torn rotator cuff & biceps tendons.

      Yes, if i got it now, my gap policy would pay the copay. When i got the machine i was still on disability and gap policies cost $500-700/month. Because my income was so low, i qualified for hardship assistance on copay after submitting proof of income & my hospital bills. I mention all this for Nana's sake.

      Big as it is, it's smaller than oxygen machines, lol

    • Posted

      Nana, has your pulmonologist prescribed a smartvest? Without an Rx, Medicare won't pay.

      The machine weighs 15 lbs by itself. If you load everything into the case, it weighs a little more. The case has excellent rollers.

      Do you have a really really hard time getting mucus up & out? If not, i don't see the point.

    • Posted

      yes, it was prescribed but my lungs are quiet. i cough a lot, but its a dry cough. My only complaint is severe fatigue, lung pain, and frequently feeling like someone is sitting on my chest.

    • Posted

      O would talk more with the lung doc. Ask him point blank if any device will help your cough or that pressure feeling, and if he says yes, ask him to explain the physiology of how they'll help.

    • Posted

      Hello, I just received the Smart vest, just like you said, it's not very helpful (well, I have only had it for a week, not sure too early to say that). I'm just like you, most mucus are on my back and mucus come out easier when I lie on my back. Not sure if you can lie down with wearing the smart vest. Please give me your advice.

  • Posted

    You may want to wait to see what other are saying before you decide. One more reason I did not like the Vest is that I while it loosens the mucus, I still had to use the nebulizer to bring it up. Just using the nebulizer by itself was as effective a lot of the time.

    Good luck,


    • Posted

      I think so too. And start using my Acapella which I NEVER use! Shame on me!

  • Edited

    I was diagnosed with mild BX in one lung 3 years ago. Within the last year, it's been detected in my other lung, as well, though still classified as mild. About 6 months into my first year, my doctor prescribed a percussion vest. I used it faithfully twice a day for the next 18 months, during which I got 2 lung infections. I was at this time that, on the advice of my pulmonologist, my husband and I moved from Colorado to Tennessee to get out of the altitude. When I found a new pulmonologist in Tennessee, I asked him about using hypertonic (7%) saline along with the albuterol in my nebulizer because I'd read that it's much more effective than the 3% saline I'd been using to break up the mucus. Although my Colorado pulmonoligist had been relunctant to let me try it, this new doctor agreed. I have found that the hypertonic saline is MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE in clearing my lungs than anything else I've tried, including the percussion vest. I've not had an infection is over 18 months and I quit using the vest about a year ago. According to my doctor, vests work fine for lots of folks but not all. It's tucked away in a closet in case I need it in the future but I'm so grateful to have found a more effective and less cumbersome way to manage the mucus in my lungs.

    In terms of the expense, we ended up paying about 10% of the $15,000 cost of the machine. I don't remember the particulars but we got some sort of discount and then Medicare paid the remaining 90%.

    I need to mention a couple of other things just to put this in perspective. First of all, my case of BX is, thankfully, very mild. I know a lot of folks on this site have multiple diagnoses so I don't want to suggest that what works for me would work for everyone. That said, I attribute my 18 infection-free months to several factors, the hypertonic saline being only one of them. I also am very consistent about maintaining the following routines, although I have no idea the extent to which they contribute to my ability to manage the BX. I share them here just FYI...

    1. My husband and I drink a kefir smoothie every morning and have done so for the past 2 and a half years. I've read about the probiotic properties of kefir and believe that the more healthy my gut, the more healthy my body. I make my own kefir from kefir grains so it's less expensive than buying kefir in the stores. Again, I don't know how much this is actually doing to boost our immune systems but at the point, I'm afraid to stop... :=)
    2. My husband and I use a 24-hour hand sanitizer every time we leave the house. The one we use is "All Day Hand Sanitizer - 24hr Protection - 6-pack Travel Size - Moisturizing, Alcohol-Free, Hypoallergenic, Fragrance-Free" available through Amazon. If you're interested, I highly recommend you read the reviews. Again, not sure how much this contributes to my good health but I'm not sure I'd have the confidence to be greeters as our church during the flu season without it.
    3. I drink at least 64 ounces of water every day. Based on my weight, this is the amount recommended by health professionals anyway, and I know it goes a long way toward thinning the mucus and making it easier to clear.
    4. I usually try to walk at least 30 minutes a day. Lately, I've been dealing with sciatica issues so I'm not as consistent as I'd like. I'm anxious to get back to my normal schedule.
    5. Lastly, but in my view most important, I trust God to help me to manage this disease that He's seen fit to allow in my life. Reading the stories of others on this site has made me keenly aware that I am indeed one of the fortunate one who hasn't yet had to deal with the more severe complications.

    Anyway, I hope some of what I've shared will be helpful to someone. My best to all my fellow BX sojourners!

    • Posted

      Yes, Barb, many of us trust in God also, drink even more water, exercise, and do both pre- & probiotics.

      You glided right over what may have been THE crucial factor in your improvement: The vast change in humidity from Colorado to Tennessee, which may also have come with a 500' to 1 mile change in altitude. For me tho not for all, the humidity change would've helped; others are exactly the opposite. If you were in the flatter, industrial farming parts of Colorado, regular exposure to vast quantities of churned soil and horrible farming chemicals would also have aggravated your lungs.

      I am happy for you that your BX is mild, and I hope it stays that way.

    • Posted

      Wow! No wonder you're better! every one of those is SPOT ON. I've definitely decided not to get the vest. I don't have it "bad enough" to warrant it/ I can't possibly afford it/ and the IVIG treatments monthly are the best possible treatment I can get for BX.

    • Edited

      My main reason for posting was to encourage folks to look into the hypertonic saline because that's the one thing I can point to as making it so much easier to clear the mucus than the vest. I regret sharing the rest that some folks apparently see as "no brainers"... :=/ At any rate, as one retired nana to another, I wish you the best! :=)

    • Posted

      Thank you very much Barb1206. I too started with mild BX 5 years ago in December 2017. But in 2019, it has it's been detected in my other lung, as well and now my doctor calls it mild to moderate 😦 I recently received a vest and I'm still not use to using it. I'm only 5 feet and 104lbs, so it is a bit heavy for me. The vibration makes me dizzy. Not sure how much it is going to help. I combined 3% and 7% saline recently because I used 3% last year. My doctor switched to 7% recently but it is a bit harsh on me. So I just combined those two and it works great. I produce jelly like phlem white color in the monrings. After breakfast, I take a short nap and realize I produce yellow-greenish mucus around that time. Do you do postal drainage too? What infections did you have and what bacteria did you have? I started inhaling albuterol and oh...boy it gives me shaky feeling, shaky hands and my heart beats went up to 130. I think I shouldnot use it anymore.

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