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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

CPR: Forget what you know?

Published October 14, 2010 3:30 PM by Danielle Bullen
If you're a physical therapist you must be certified in CPR to earn your state license. But what kind of CPR do you know? Chances are it combines chest compressions to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which has long been the gold standard. Results of a recent study may change your mind.

Researchers found that compression-only CPR leads to a higher survival rate versus the traditional version. The study examined 4, 415 adults who went into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital. Those who got hands-only CPR survived to hospital discharge at a rate of 13.3%. People who got chest and mouth-to-mouth had a survival rate of 7.8%. That's a big difference!

These results were based on CPR done by non-medical professionals, aka good Samaritans. But they beg the question: Should everyone be focusing on the "new" CPR?  The American Heart Association will release its recommendations later this year so we'll wait and see.

Non physical-therapists, do you know how to perform CPR? It's a critical skill that not enough people know. Therapists, have you ever had to resuscitate a patient?


After taking CPR courses repeatedly, I decided to become an instructor.  I was amazed through the years with the subtle, yet significant changes in "correct" procedure.  Medicine is definitely not an exact science.  What I always told my students was that the changes emphasized that if you forgot and did too many compressions before you gave a breath, it obviously wasn't a huge deal.  The fact is, if you do nothing...they are guaranteed not to die.  If you at least try CPR, even if you don't do it perfectly, you have given them a chance.

As a CPR student, and still as an instructor, I always wondered about the high-pitched squeal that signified insufficient air when someone was choking.  If they are passing "sufficient" air, you are supposed to leave them alone.  How would I know that HIGH-pitched squeal?

I was always told, "You will know it when you hear it."  I promise you, that is the truth.  Had to do the Heimlich on my infant daughter while my six year old daughter called 911.  Has to be the most scared I've ever been.

This year my husband choked on hamburger in a restaurant.  He wasn't passing any air.  He turned to the person who he was with and put his hands to his throat.  His friend went white as a sheet.  A stranger, sitting behind him, turned around and did the Heimlich on my husband.  How he knew Darren was choking when their backs were to each other, is a miracle.  He said he had done the Heimlich to another person recently.

It works.  I'm so grateful.

Janey Goude October 14, 2010 9:37 PM

Yup, 15 years ago in a patient's home. Worst experience of my PT career. She didn't make it.

Dean Metz October 14, 2010 4:00 PM

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