Following on from our recent post highlighting what chest physiotherapy is, we thought we should take a moment to delve deeper into what a respiratory physiotherapist is, the conditions we treat and how we can help.
What is a respiratory physiotherapist?
As the name suggests, respiratory physiotherapy focuses on the respiratory system—the lungs and the intricate network of airways. A respiratory physiotherapist is a trained physiotherapist who has specialised in the breathing system. They have usually undertaken specialist training and experience in managing conditions and symptoms that impact the breathing system. These conditions can include:
- breathing pattern disorders
- exercise induced laryngeal obstruction
- cystic fibrosis
- long covid
- hyperventilation syndrome
- recurrent chest infections
- recovery post heart or lung surgery
- recovery post infection such as COVID-19 or pneumonia
- cough hypersensitivity
- pulmonary fibrosis
- neuromuscular conditions
A respiratory physiotherapist can help address issues at all stages of the above conditions—from early diagnosis to chronic illness.
The primary goal of respiratory physiotherapy is to help alleviate symptoms, and maximise physical function and long-term lung health. Respiratory physios will equip you with the skills and techniques you need to be able to do the things you want to do, and they frequently work alongside other professionals involved in your care in order to achieve this.
What does a respiratory physiotherapist do?
A respiratory physiotherapist will use a range of techniques tailored to a patient’s needs to help support and optimise their breathing. These may include, but are not limited to: tailored breathing exercises, hands-on physiotherapy, exercise prescription and/or pulmonary rehabilitation.
Your respiratory physiotherapist will take a holistic approach to your treatment. This means investigating your specific symptoms to understand your current circumstances, looking at what other factors may be contributing, and then calling on a range of treatments to support you. These may include a specific breathing programme, advice around lifestyle changes that may benefit you, and physical exercises that you can improve on over time to ensure you achieve the best possible quality of life.
It’s all about providing patients with a 360 degree approach to respiratory care.
How does it work?
You will be assessed initially and then commenced on a programme of treatment which will be specifically tailored to meet your unique needs. This personalised approach precisely addresses your specific challenges, and will give you the tools you need to improve at the right pace for you.
During your appointments with your physiotherapist you will be listened to, supported, and guided through any exercises, ensuring an effective technique for maximum benefit. The exercises can then be incorporated into your daily routine, allowing you to perform them at home so you can steadily progress. You will be reviewed in line with what is appropriate for your needs, and this can be discussed with your physio in your first session, and adapted over time if needed.