The Role of Physiotherapy in the management of Respiratory conditions

Respiratory diseases also known as chronic lung diseases are diseases that affect the airways and other structures of the lung. Currently, there are more than 20 different varieties of respiratory disease affecting millions of individuals across the world. The lungs are among the most important organs within the body, and because of that, the effects of chronic lung disease on health and quality of life can be downright devastating. To mention a few, it lowers energy levels, affects the ability to breathe, reduce mobility and ultimately shortens the lifespan of an individual. Chronic lung disease, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is now the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Symptoms of respiratory diseases 

The symptoms of lung disease includes:

  • Productive cough, and presence of blood in sputum
  • Dyspnoea or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Causes of respiratory disease

As one of the most common medical conditions in the world, the disease is primarily caused by:

  • Smoking, as a result of smoking or second-hand smoke,
  • Infections of the lungs
  • Genetic make-up
  • Exposure to areas of high airborne particulates (living near the desert or areas of high pollution).
  • Exposure to areas of high airborne particulates (living near the desert or areas of high pollution).

Types of respiratory diseases

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis 
  • Interstitial lung disease 
  • Asthma
  • PulmonaryFibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Pneumoconiosis

Role of Physiotherapy

Proper breathing technique is a major part of most physical therapies recommended for patients with respiratory conditions. Because of this, most physical therapists who are experts as a result of their trainings can be extremely helpful to people who are suffering from respiratory issues. Physiotherapists help people who have respiratory problems as a result of an underlying medical condition, or someone who may be recovering from surgery or trauma.

Physiotherapy commences with a compressive assessment of respiratory function, breathing pattern, respiratory muscle function and exercise capacity. Assessment of the skeletal muscle is also included, as this forms a major barrier to normal functioning in many respiratory diseases. Based on the assessment, a treatment plan is developed and is aimed to:

  • Improve functional abilities (i.e. carrying out daily tasks).
  • Maintain and improve physical activity, coaching patients toward improving healthy behaviours.
  • Improve and maintain exercise tolerance.
  • Improve the efficiency of ventilation
  • Mobilize and aid the expectoration of secretions (coughing up of mucus).
  • Reduce pain and distress.
  • Reduce breathlessness and the work of breathing.

Visiting a Physiotherapist

Respiratory diseases aren’t illnesses that are easy to live with. It’s draining, frustrating and downright disheartening when feeling as if your quality of life is slowly slipping away from you. However, a better outcome may be possible through treatment.

If you are having difficulty breathing, it is important to visit a doctor. If the underlying cause has been identified, we believe Physiotherapy could help, and we have the best expertise at PCA that can help you achieve the best results possible.

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