What Is Chronic Airways Disease and How Can Physiotherapy Help?
Chronic airways disease is actually a group of diseases. These diseases are also called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic airways disease can cause a major change in the quality of a patient’s life. However, physiotherapy can help.
Diseases included in chronic airways disease are chronic bronchitis and emphysema, for example. Many other diseases that restrict or limit breathing are included. It is most often caused by cigarette smoking, but also can be caused by inhaling other irritants such as those in the workplace. Chronic airways disease is more common among the elderly.
Along with having shortness of breath, the patient is likely to wheeze and cough frequently. He will produce sputum in copious amounts, and sometimes that will be streaked with blood. The lips and fingers can take on a bluish tint because he is not getting enough oxygen, and heart trouble may follow for the same reason.
Physiotherapy can help with chronic airways disease in many ways. One is in breathing retraining. This is just what it sounds like. A physiotherapist works with the patient to teach him ways to breathe that will draw the most air while eliminating the most wheezing. This can be a great help for those with chronic airways disease.
Another method used by physiotherapists for those with chronic airways disease is called clapping and postural drainage. The postural drainage part is done by positioning the body so that the affected lung is above the trachea.
Many people do this at home by lying on a bed and bending the top half of the body over it. The physiotherapist teaches one how to do this so that the lung will drain. Before long, the patient with chronic airways disease will be doing this procedure on his own.
The other part of the help for chronic airways disease patients is called clapping. This is done by cupping the hand and clapping the back to loosen secretions in the chest. It is also called chest percussion. The physiotherapist will do this procedure, and will teach it to a family member or caregiver.
People with chronic airways disease often have a problem with weakening legs. This is because, as they have trouble breathing, they avoid walking or doing physical exercise of any sort. The goal of physiotherapy in this case is to strengthen the legs through treadmill-walking or stationary-cycling. This can only be done, however, if the patient is well enough to start out.
Conditioning the arms of chronic airways disease patients is just as important. Most daily jobs rely heavily on the arms to do the work. Exercises which focus on the arms not only strengthen the muscles of the arms. They also help the patient start breathing better.
Chronic airways disease is a condition that can benefit from physiotherapy. The physiotherapist treating the patient must have specialized knowledge for this type of treatment. Simple methods can be overlooked as modern treatments come to the forefront. Yet, physiotherapy personnel who know this technique can make a big difference in patients’ lives.