Tripod position

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The tripod position may be adopted by people experiencing respiratory distress or who are simply out of breath. Runners panting.jpg
The tripod position may be adopted by people experiencing respiratory distress or who are simply out of breath.

The tripod position is a physical stance often assumed by people experiencing respiratory distress (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or who are simply out of breath (such as a person who has just run a sprint). [1] In tripod position, one sits or stands leaning forward and supporting the upper body with hands on the knees or on another surface. [2] Among medical professionals, a patient adopting the tripod position is considered an indication that the patient may be in respiratory distress. [3] In the setting of chest pain without labored respirations, the tripod position may indicate acute pericarditis.

It has been thought that the tripod position optimizes the mechanics of respiration by taking advantage of the accessory muscles of the neck and upper chest to get more air into the lungs. [4] [5] With the position of the arms secure, contraction of the pectoralis results in elevation of the anterior wall of the chest. [6]

Related Research Articles

Respiratory failure inadequate gas exchange by the respiratory system

Respiratory failure results from inadequate gas exchange by the respiratory system, meaning that the arterial oxygen, carbon dioxide or both cannot be kept at normal levels. A drop in the oxygen carried in blood is known as hypoxemia; a rise in arterial carbon dioxide levels is called hypercapnia. Respiratory failure is classified as either Type 1 or Type 2, based on whether there is a high carbon dioxide level. The definition of respiratory failure in clinical trials usually includes increased respiratory rate, abnormal blood gases, and evidence of increased work of breathing. Respiratory failure causes an altered mental status due to ischemia in the brain.

Shortness of breath (SOB), also known as dyspnea, is the feeling that one cannot breathe well enough. The American Thoracic Society defines it as "a subjective experience of breathing discomfort that consists of qualitatively distinct sensations that vary in intensity", and recommends evaluating dyspnea by assessing the intensity of the distinct sensations, the degree of distress involved, and its burden or impact on activities of daily living. Distinct sensations include effort/work, chest tightness, and air hunger.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome Human disease

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a type of respiratory failure characterized by rapid onset of widespread inflammation in the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and bluish skin coloration. Among those who survive, a decreased quality of life is relatively common.

Orthopnea or orthopnoea is shortness of breath (dyspnea) that occurs when lying flat, causing the person to have to sleep propped up in bed or sitting in a chair. It is commonly seen as a late manifestation of heart failure, resulting from fluid redistribution into the central circulation, causing an increase in pulmonary capillary pressure. It is also seen in cases of abdominal obesity or pulmonary disease. Orthopnea is the opposite of platypnea, shortness of breath that worsens when sitting or standing up.

Interstitial lung disease group of lung diseases affecting the interstitium (the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lungs)

Interstitial lung disease (ILD), or diffuse parenchymal lung disease (DPLD), is a group of lung diseases affecting the interstitium (the tissue and space around the alveoli. It concerns alveolar epithelium, pulmonary capillary endothelium, basement membrane, and perivascular and perilymphatic tissues. It may occur when an injury to the lungs triggers an abnormal healing response. Ordinarily, the body generates just the right amount of tissue to repair damage, but in interstitial lung disease, the repair process goes awry and the tissue around the air sacs becomes scarred and thickened. This makes it more difficult for oxygen to pass into the bloodstream. The term ILD is used to distinguish these diseases from obstructive airways diseases.

Optoelectronic plethysmography (OEP) is a method to evaluate ventilation through an external measurement of the chest wall surface motion.

Respiratory examination

A respiratory examination, or lung examination, is performed as part of a physical examination, in response to respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain, and is often carried out with a cardiac examination.

Respiratory disease disease of the respiratory system

Respiratory disease, or lung disease, is a medical term that encompasses pathological conditions affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange difficult in air-breathing animals. They include conditions of the respiratory tract including the trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleurae, pleural cavity, and the nerves and muscles of respiration. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting, such as the common cold, to life-threatening diseases such as bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, acute asthma and lung cancer.

Getting the wind knocked out of you, also referred to as being or getting "winded" is a commonly used idiom that refers to a kind of diaphragm spasm that occurs when sudden force is applied to the abdomen which puts pressure on the solar plexus. This often happens in contact sports, from a forceful blow to the abdomen, or by falling on the back. It results in a temporary paralysis of the diaphragm that makes it difficult to breathe. The sensation of being unable to breathe can lead to anxiety and there may be residual pain from the original blow, but the condition typically clears spontaneously in a minute or two. Victims of a winding episode often groan in a strained manner until normal breathing resumes.

Bronchitis type of lower respiratory disease

Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchi in the lungs that causes coughing. Symptoms include coughing up sputum, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic.

Obstructive lung disease

Obstructive lung disease is a category of respiratory disease characterized by airway obstruction. Many obstructive diseases of the lung result from narrowing (obstruction) of the smaller bronchi and larger bronchioles, often because of excessive contraction of the smooth muscle itself. It is generally characterized by inflamed and easily collapsible airways, obstruction to airflow, problems exhaling and frequent medical clinic visits and hospitalizations. Types of obstructive lung disease include; asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although COPD shares similar characteristics with all other obstructive lung diseases, such as the signs of coughing and wheezing, they are distinct conditions in terms of disease onset, frequency of symptoms and reversibility of airway obstruction. Cystic fibrosis is also sometimes included in obstructive pulmonary disease.

Restrictive lung diseases are a category of extrapulmonary, pleural, or parenchymal respiratory diseases that restrict lung expansion, resulting in a decreased lung volume, an increased work of breathing, and inadequate ventilation and/or oxygenation. Pulmonary function test demonstrates a decrease in the forced vital capacity.

Pulmonary function testing Test to evaluate respiratory system

Pulmonary function test (PFT) is a complete evaluation of the respiratory system including patient history, physical examinations, and tests of pulmonary function. The primary purpose of pulmonary function testing is to identify the severity of pulmonary impairment. Pulmonary function testing has diagnostic and therapeutic roles and helps clinicians answer some general questions about patients with lung disease. PFTs are normally performed by a respiratory therapist, physiotherapist, pulmonologist, and/or general practitioner.

FEV1/FVC ratio

The FEV1/FVC ratio, also called Tiffeneau-Pinelli index, is a calculated ratio used in the diagnosis of obstructive and restrictive lung disease. It represents the proportion of a person's vital capacity that they are able to expire in the first second of forced expiration (FEV1) to the full, forced vital capacity (FVC). The result of this ratio is expressed as FEV1%.

Pulmonary rehabilitation, also known as respiratory rehabilitation, is an important part of the management and health maintenance of people with chronic respiratory disease who remain symptomatic or continue to have decreased function despite standard medical treatment. It is a broad therapeutic concept. It is defined by the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society as an evidence-based, multidisciplinary, and comprehensive intervention for patients with chronic respiratory diseases who are symptomatic and often have decreased daily life activities. In general, pulmonary rehabilitation refers to a series of services that are administered to patients of respiratory disease and their families, typically to attempt to improve the quality of life for the patient. Pulmonary rehabilitation may be carried out in a variety of settings, depending on the patient's needs, and may or may not include pharmacologic intervention.

In some individuals, the effect of oxygen on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is to cause increased carbon dioxide retention, which may cause drowsiness, headaches, and in severe cases lack of respiration, which may lead to death. People with lung ailments or with central respiratory depression, who receive supplemental oxygen, require careful monitoring.

A parasternal heave is a precordial impulse that may be felt (palpated) in patients with cardiac or respiratory disease. Precordial impulses are visible or palpable pulsations of the chest wall, which originate on the heart or the great vessels.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease type of lung disease characterized by long-term poor airflow

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. The main symptoms include shortness of breath and cough with sputum production. COPD is a progressive disease, meaning it typically worsens over time. Eventually, everyday activities such as walking or getting dressed become difficult. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for different types of COPD. The term "chronic bronchitis" is still used to define a productive cough that is present for at least three months each year for two years. Those with such a cough are at a greater risk of developing COPD. The term "emphysema" is also used for the abnormal presence of air or other gas within tissues.

Physiotherapists treating patients following uncomplicated coronary artery bypass surgery surgery continue to use interventions such as deep breathing exercises that are not supported by best available evidence. Standardised guidelines may be required to better match clinical practice with current literature.

Diffuse idiopathic pulmonary neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia (DIPNECH) is a diffuse parenchymal lung disease which often presents with symptoms of cough and shortness of breath. The pathological definition published by the World Health Organization is “a generalized proliferation of scattered single cells, small nodules, or linear proliferations of pulmonary neuroendocrine (PNE) cells that may be confined to the bronchial and bronchiolar epithelium.” The true prevalence of this disease is not known. To date, just under 200 cases have been reported in the literature. However, with an increase in recognition of this disease by radiologists and pulmonologists, the number of cases has been increasing. DIPNECH predominantly affects middle-aged women with slowly progressive lung obstruction. DIPNECH is usually discovered in one of two ways: 1) as an unexpected finding following a lung surgery; or 2) by evaluation of a patient in a pulmonary clinic with longstanding, unexplained symptoms.


  1. Examination of Musculoskeletal Injuries, by Sandra J. Shultz, Peggy A. Houglum, David H. Perrin
  2., Effect of Tripod Position on Objective Parameters of Respiratory Function in Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; S.P. Bhatt1, R. Guleria1, T.K. Luqman-Arafath1, A.K. Gupta2, A. Mohan1, S. Nanda1 and J.C. Stoltzfus3
  3. SweetHaven Publishing Services, Taking Vital Signs
  4. UCSD Catalog of Clinical Images
  5. Examination of Musculoskeletal Injuries, by Sandra J. Shultz, Peggy A. Houglum, David H. Perrin
  6. Respiratory Physiology: a Clinical Approach, by Richard M. Schwartzstein and Michael J. Parker; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (August 12, 2005)