When someone talks about the rehabilitation of cardiopulmonary conditions, the specialists which come forward are the cardiopulmonary physical therapist. Cardiopulmonary physiotherapy is an area of physiotherapy that specializes in the prevention, rehabilitation, and restoration of patients with diseases of lungs and heart.
The patient having cardiopulmonary diseases suffer from breathlessness, increased sputum production, a decrease in gas exchanges, reduced exercise capacity and increased fatigue, chest pain, etc. The Cardiopulmonary therapist helps the patients to overcome the physical and functional impairment, activity limitations, and participation restrictions due to the impairments of structures and functions of the cardiovascular and pulmonary system. They also play a significant role in the management of various conditions such as Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and many more.
The core component of cardiopulmonary physiotherapy interventions is exercise prescriptions. There are various methods and techniques which are used in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation viz. deep breathing exercises, breathing facilitation exercises, percussions and vibrations, coughing, mobility assistance, and individually tailored exercises, etc. Through these techniques a cardiopulmonary physical therapist can help patients to reduce breathlessness, increase functional capacity, reduce the exacerbations of conditions and thereby reduce the number of hospital admissions; it also enhances mental wellbeing and improves the quality of life.
There are various settings where the cardiopulmonary physical therapist are helpful for the patients to improve quality of life such as ICU, indoor and outdoor patient department, home care, clinics and rehabilitation In intensive care unit (ICU) where some patients are on a ventilator, there are chances of accumulations of secretions in lungs, decrease oxygenation. In this setting, the physical therapist helps to improve ventilation, facilitate removal of secretions, and improve management of shortness of breath for better function. The patient education and interventions related to corrections of breathing patterns are done through various breathing techniques and manual therapy such as chest percussion and vibrations to mobilize secretions.
In outpatients and rehabilitation clinics individualized education related to the patient’s condition, how to respond in case of increased symptoms, and graded exercise training in form of endurance, resistance, and respiratory muscle training is provided to maximize the patient’s functional level.
During this pandemic COVID-19, the cardiopulmonary therapist has a significant role, as the person with COVID -19 presents with respiratory symptoms like pneumonia and breathlessness and fever. The therapist provides breathing retraining and helps to remove secretions and reduces acute respiratory distress like symptoms.
Dr. Sonia Pawaria
Faculty of Physiotherapy