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Pulmonary Rehabilitation - How Physiotherapy Can Help?

Xcell Physiocare 87% (22 ratings)
MSPT (Master of Physical Therapy)
Physiotherapist, Delhi  •  7 years experience
Pulmonary Rehabilitation - How Physiotherapy Can Help?

Seeing someone who used to do all their activities on their own turn to someone who needs help even with small things like going to the bathroom can be very difficult.

The lungs are vital organs in that they are essential to supply oxygen to the entire body. If the various organs do not receive adequate oxygen, their function can be impaired. Therefore, lung function needs to be maintained. Lung function can be impaired by chronic conditions like COPD and bronchiectasis. In both these, the overall ability of the lungs to take in adequate oxygen is reduced. Therefore, the lungs need to be rehabilitated so that they can improve their ability to function better. These exercises are aimed at the following:

  1. Improve ability to breathe effectively
  2. Reduce episodes of breathlessness
  3. Reduce the number of hospitalizations required to clear sputum and infections
  4. Improve ability to perform small, routine chores on their own
  5. Improve exercise tolerance over a period of time
  6. Improve overall quality of life
  7. Reduce morbidity and mortality rates

It has been proven beyond doubt that in addition to medications, physiotherapy plays a vital role in improving lung function over a period of time. Depending on the actual condition of the patient, a physiotherapy program is drawn up. Initially, the therapist will guide the patient and/or the caretaker with the various exercises. Over a period of time, the caretaker and the patient can do these on their own. The intent of these common exercises is to improve breathing efficiency, clear mucus, and improve overall lung function.

  1. Active breathing techniques (ABT) – We all know that breathing is involuntary; however, making an effort to consciously breathe can improve the efficiency. More oxygen is taken in and sent to the various organs, thereby rejuvenating the entire body.
  2. Postural drainage: With any chronic lung condition, sputum or mucus tends to accumulate in various parts of the lungs. If not drained, it can attract more bacteria and cause infection. The patient is made to lie in various positions so that different parts of the lungs are drained, aided by gravity. This is highly effective in clearing secretions.
  3. Pursed lip breathing: Inhaling through the nose and letting the air out through the mouth like how a candle is blown helps improve lung function.
  4. Forced coughing: A person is taught to induce coughing so that secretions are cleared out, thereby reducing chances of infection. Inhale as usual to the full capacity and exhale in coughing spurts.

It has been proven beyond doubt that with no side effects (unlike medications), physiotherapy improves the overall quality of life in people with COPD.

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