My research has focused on the use of airway clearance techniques in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. When I commenced working with Cystic Fibrosis patients in British Columbia, the physiotherapy treatment consisted of tipping patients head down and clapping various parts of their chest to loose mucus (called postural drainage). This was a tedious technique, uncomfortable and requiring the assistance of a second person. In 1985 with a grant from the BC Lung Association, I began researching other physiotherapy techniques used in Europe that could be performed independantly and were less tiring. However, there were no studies to support their use. Since then, I have conducted many clinical studies and validated the effectiveness of various airway clearance techniques. As a result, these newer airway clearance techniques have replaced postural drainage in the treatment of CF. This has greatly improved the quality of life for our CF patients.


Personalising airway clearance in chronic lung disease.
McIlwaine M and Bradley J and Elborn JS and Moran F
DOI: 10.1183/16000617.0086-2016
PubMed: 28223396

Physical activity assessment in cystic fibrosis: A position statement.
Bradley J and O'Neill B and Kent L and Hulzebos EH and Arets B and Hebestreit H and Exercise Working Group European CF Society and for publication in Journal of CF and Exercise Working Group European CF Society
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcf.2015.05.011
PubMed: 26219990

Positive expiratory pressure physiotherapy for airway clearance in people with cystic fibrosis.
McIlwaine M and Button B and Dwan K
DOI: 10.1002/14651858.cd003147.pub4
PubMed: 26083308

Physiotherapy and cystic fibrosis: what is the evidence base?
McIlwaine MP and Lee Son NM and Richmond ML
DOI: 10.1097/mcp.0000000000000110
PubMed: 25225791

Long-term multicentre randomised controlled study of high frequency chest wall oscillation versus positive expiratory pressure mask in cystic fibrosis.
McIlwaine MP and Alarie N and Davidson GF and Lands LC and Ratjen F and Milner R and Owen B and Agnew JL
DOI: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202915
PubMed: 23407019

Cystic fibrosis research in allied health and nursing professions.
Bradley JM and Madge S and Morton AM and Quittner AL and Elborn JS and Allied Health and Nursing Professions Working Group and European Cystic Fibrosis Society
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcf.2012.03.004
PubMed: 22516511

Open-label, follow-on study of azithromycin in pediatric patients with CF uninfected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Saiman L and Mayer-Hamblett N and Anstead M and Lands LC and Kloster M and Goss CH and Rose LM and Burns JL and Marshall BC and Ratjen F and AZ0004 Macrolide Study Team
DOI: 10.1002/ppul.21601
PubMed: 22684984

Inhaled hypertonic saline in infants and children younger than 6 years with cystic fibrosis: the ISIS randomized controlled trial.
Rosenfeld M and Ratjen F and Brumback L and Daniel S and Rowbotham R and McNamara S and Johnson R and Kronmal R and Davis SD and ISIS Study Group
DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.5214
PubMed: 22610452

Long-term comparative trial of two different physiotherapy techniques; postural drainage with percussion and autogenic drainage, in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
McIlwaine M and Wong LT and Chilvers M and Davidson GF
DOI: 10.1002/ppul.21247
PubMed: 20836133

Effect of azithromycin on pulmonary function in patients with cystic fibrosis uninfected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa: a randomized controlled trial.
Saiman L and Anstead M and Mayer-Hamblett N and Lands LC and Kloster M and Hocevar-Trnka J and Goss CH and Rose LM and Burns JL and Marshall BC and Ratjen F and AZ0004 Azithromycin Study Group
DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.563
PubMed: 20442386

Chest physical therapy, breathing techniques and exercise in children with CF.
McIlwaine M
DOI: 10.1016/j.prrv.2007.02.013
PubMed: 17419973

Physiotherapy and airway clearance techniques and devices.
McIlwaine M
DOI: 10.1016/j.prrv.2006.04.197
PubMed: 16798571

Physiotherapy in infants and young children with cystic fibrosis: current practice and future developments.
Lannefors L and Button BM and McIlwaine M
PubMed: 15239290

Airway clearance techniques in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
McIlwaine MP and Davidson AG
PubMed: 9363183


Current Projects
Presently I am the Principal Investigator of a large multi-centre clinical study comparing the effectiveness of high frequency chest wall osscillation (HFCWO) with the use of Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). It involves 12 CF centres across canada with 107 patients with CF. Subjects were randomized to receive either PEP therapy or HFCWO for a one year period. Primary outcome is the number of respiratory exacerbations in each group. The study is now ended and the results are still being compiled. the primary data has just been published which demonstrated that PEP is superior to HFCWO in maintaining the health of CF patients.

The second project is to examine the effectivenss of using PEP as compared to modified postural drainage with percussion in the treatment of infants with CF. All the research conducted so far as beenwith children and adults over the age of 6 years, and the data has been extrapulated to use in infants. However, with the introduction of newborn screening in CF in BC in 2010, we want to conduct a randomized controlled trial in infants. We are in the intial stages of this study, with writing the Protocol and applying for a grant.


$209,000 grant from Cystic Fibrosis Canada

Honours & Awards

Best Poster award, 2012 European Cystic Fibrosis Conference, Dublin, Ireland