Respiratory physiotherapy addresses physiotherapeutic treatment techniques that help in the elimination of secretions and airway clearance, helping to reduce the work of breathing and in the worst case lung collapse, through a series of exercises, education and controlled activity.
There are many factors that can cause a deterioration of respiratory function and detecting them early offers a good opportunity to treat them correctly. The exhaustive evaluation of the patient is one of the functions of our physiotherapists and osteopaths of Physiotherapy in Ibiza to identify the appropriate treatment.
- To facilitate the elimination of secretions retained in the respiratory tract.
- Avoid lung collapse
- Decrease the work of breathing
- Optimize ventilation and improve gas exchange
- Airway clearance
- Normal clearance with an open airway, a functional mucociliary staircase and effective coughing
When should you see a respiratory physiotherapist?
There are several reasons why it is advisable to see a respiratory physiotherapist when you recognize some of these symptoms:
- Possible long-term problems with your breathing, e.g. COPD, emphysema, bronchiectasis, asthma, chronic bronchitis or pulmonary fibrosis.
- You suffer from recurrent chest infections or pneumonia.
- You have problems with hyperventilation (rapid breathing).
- You have had a recent hospital admission for breathing problems.
- You have been told that you have an abnormal breathing pattern.
- You are short of breath when walking or exerting yourself.
- You have difficulty breathing normally because of a sports injury.
- You have suffered a recent chest trauma (rib fracture, bruising).
- You suffer from anxiety or stress.
- You have difficulty clearing phlegm from your chest.
- You need advice on how to use inhalers correctly.
- You have had a recent respiratory, abdominal, neural or cardiac operation.
Possible conditions requiring respiratory physiotherapy
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that causes airflow obstruction in the lungs. Its most common symptoms are shortness of breath, cough, mucus production and sputum. It usually occurs in smokers caused by prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke.
The two most common COPD conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis, both of which usually occur together and can vary in severity. Chronic bronchitis inflames the bronchi and causes coughing and mucus with sputum. Emphysema is a condition where the alveoli at the end of the bronchioles are destroyed as a result of harmful exposure to tobacco smoke.
Although COPD is generally a degenerative disease that worsens over time, proper treatment can achieve symptom control and a good quality of life.
A lobectomy is the removal of a lobe of the lungs, in most cases a lobectomy is performed to remove a cancerous part of the lung to prevent it from spreading, once the affected lobe is removed the remaining healthy lung tissue can function normally.
Appropriate postoperative pulmonary physiotherapy treatment helps patients to relieve pain, resolve an inefficient breathing pattern, ineffective cough, reduced lung volume or retention of secretions.
What techniques are used in respiratory physical therapy?
The techniques used in respiratory physiotherapy include a program of exercises to teach the patient to maintain a proper breathing technique to help lung function, also applied in pediatric physiotherapy. These respiratory techniques are especially useful for those who have difficulty filling their lungs with air, thereby improving oxygen transport and removing accumulated mucus in the airways. The most frequent treatments are:
- Airway clearance: When the respiratory system is not clean and free of infection it does not function properly causing a buildup of mucus leading to infection and damage to the airways. The unblocking treatment through manual therapy helps the mucus to be moved to the larger airways to be expelled through coughing.
- Lung inflation: This technique helps to improve air filling of specific areas of the lungs by improving air distribution throughout the body by expanding lung tissue.
- Thoracic percussion: This technique consists of rhythmically slapping the chest, back and lower arms to decrease mucus.
- Controlled coughing: Helps to break down thick mucus and then expel it.
- Rotation: Consists of turning the patient from side to side using the force of gravity to loosen and remove mucus from the lungs.
- Vibration: While the patient performs deep breathing exercises, vibrations are applied to the thorax, either manually or mechanically, helping to remove pulmonary secretions.