Rehabilitating patients with decreased ability to breathe and function is often a neglected area of healthcare, yet it is one of the most rewarding aspects of physical therapy. Physical therapy is concerned with maintaining, developing & restoring an individual’s maximum movement & functional ability.
Respiratory physical therapy is aimed at educating and training patients with chronic lung disease to retrain their respiratory muscles improve efficiency of their breathing techniques, and functional retraining to decrease fatigue during everyday activities. Respiratory physical therapy helps patients report a greater sense of well-being due to the ability to gain control over their symptoms.
There is also a focus on ensuring that patients can keep their airways clear by techniques that include, but are not limited to effective coughing, forced expiratory techniques, and manual techniques.
Physical therapy techniques include breathing exercises, deep breathing, end respiratory hold, & abdominal breathing. Additionally, a therapist can also help with providing neurophysiological facilitation which includes putting pressure and using different finger positions to facilitate increased inhalation of air. There are also mechanical aids such as incentive spirometry that can be used to help to increase lung volume. The key to these activities is being able to perform them during therapy sessions and to carry over the skills when performing daily activities.
Physical therapists role in patient care includes assessment, advice, education and hands-on intervention. Traditionally, respiratory physical therapists aid the mobilization and removal of secretions. However, this is only one of the many problems physical therapists can address. They aim to:
Physical therapy typically commences with a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s respiratory function, breathing pattern, respiratory muscle function and exercise capacity, also it improves patient’s quality of life significantly.
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