Move over, Heimlich: DIY thrust is a lifesaver

UK researchers have developed a DIY variation of the Heimlich manoeuvre, and they’re urging Australians to adopt it.

While the controversial Heimlich manoeuvre has never been recommended for use in Australia, respiratory specialists at the Royal Brompton Hospital are suggesting the guidelines be changed to include their instructions for self-administered abdominal thrusts using the back of a chair.

In a series of tests involving healthy volunteers, they found that self-administered abdominal thrusts could be more effective at generating expulsive intrathoracic pressure than thrusts delivered by first-aiders.

How to perform the Heimlich manoevre on yourself

Their auto-administration technique involves the choking person positioning themselves above a high-backed chair, with the chair back positioned below the upper half of the abdomen. Using gravity, bodyweight and arm strength, the person allows the back of the chair to thrust up into their abdomen.

In their laboratory tests, they found that chair thrusts created the most thoracic pressure, followed by the circumferential abdominal thrust, where the rescuer stands behind the victim.

Similar thoracic pressure is achieved by the victim placing their own hands in the same position and pulling backwards into their stomach.

“We recommend that the manoeuvre should be performed by inward thrust over the fleshy part of the abdomen, around the level of the navel,” they suggest.

The case for using the chair thrust is strengthened by its lack of reliance on an external operator, they add.