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The Story of the Original Airway Clearance Therapy Device

The Vest® Airway Clearance System has been advancing airway clearance therapy for over 30 years.  

For over 100 years, Hillrom has provided care teams with increasingly intelligent, connected solutions across all care settings, including respiratory home care. The standard for airway clearance and original High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (HFCWO) device, The Vest® Airway Clearance System has been improving since it was first imagined over 30 years ago, and has since brought home respiratory therapy to 123,000 patients.1 Innovations like The Vest® Airway Clearance System will continue to evolve, making home care outcomes better for patients with chronic disease.  


A revolution in respiratory health begins 

In 1985, researchers at the University of Minnesota began developing a therapeutic device that would replace manual chest percussion therapy to help clear excess secretions from Cystic Fibrosis patients’ lungs. Three years later, Advanced Respiratory, Inc. would license the patent, receive initial FDA market clearance on the device for airway clearance therapy and distribute 285 devices under the name ThAIRapy™ Vest. 


Improving the design 

Engineers made the next model, 102, less industrial and more portable. This enhancement made respiratory home care for chronic disease a reality. They continued to make design improvements to Model 103, reducing the device size, weight and noise by nearly 70 percent. By the year 2000, the device was commonly known in the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) community as a viable solution for treating the condition at home. An increasing number of physicians were starting to recognize the benefits of HFCWO therapy for non-CF patients as well. 


The Vest® Airway Clearance System arrives 

The device was renamed The Vest® Airway Clearance System in 2001. The even more compact Model 104 was introduced in 2003, the same year Hill-Rom acquired Advanced Respiratory, Inc (ARI). Over the next decade, The Vest® Airway Clearance System made incredible strides, becoming even more portable, adding new innovative features and accessories and introducing new garment colors and sizes.

Respiratory home care has never been easier than with the latest version of The Vest® Airway Clearance System, Model 105. The fifth generation of technology from the innovators of High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (HFCWO) brings more relief to patients. With TrueFlowTM technology that generates increased airflow to create cough-like sheer forces and decreases secretion viscosity, Model 105 helps patients move retained secretions from smaller airways to larger airways where they can be more easily suctioned out or removed by coughing.

The Vest® Airway Clearance System also connects patients and their care teams with the Hillrom™ Connex® App and Health Portal to help care teams share therapy session data and results. With this powerful connection, patients can manage their daily care routines, and clinicians can create more informed care plans in collaboration with patients. 


Becoming the standard 

It’s no surprise then, that The Vest® Airway Clearance System has been prescribed by more than 24,000 physicians nationwide, more than any other HFCWO device.2 Over 80 clinical studies have been conducted in acute care, long-term care and home care, making it the most researched HFCWO system on the market today. The Vest® Airway Clearance System will continue to evolve and provide respiratory home care to new generations of patients. 


Continuing to innovate 

At Hillrom, we’re committed to respiratory home care that never stops innovating to support patients and care teams. That’s why we continue to introduce new technologies that produce better outcomes and improve the quality of life, such as the versatile Volara™ System, which combines three respiratory therapies to help patients breathe easier, or the revolutionary Monarch® Airway Clearance System, which lets patients take therapy almost anywhere. 


Download our eBook and infographic to learn about our home care solutions. 


1. Hill-Rom. (n.d.). The Vest® Airway Clearance System, Model 105 Helping Patients Breathe a Little Easier™ [Brochure]. Retrieved 2015, from 

2. Hill-Rom. (n.d.). The Vest® Airway Clearance System, Model 105 Helping Patients Breathe a Little Easier™ [Brochure]. Retrieved 2015, from