Physiotherapists are specially trained in treatments to help you if you’re suffering from problems associated with cardiac (heart) and lung conditions such as shortness of breath, difficulty clearing phlegm and a limited tolerance for activity or exercise.
You can be seen in many different settings, including private practice or an outpatient clinic, in-patient medical and surgical wards, intensive care, or within group exercise/education classes.
What are the main conditions treated?
Lung conditions that cause breathing problems and may benefit from physiotherapy include the following:
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Recurrent chest infections
Breathing issues arising from spinal cord injury, neuromuscular weakness, or developmental delay.
Physiotherapy also forms a key part of the rehabilitation for the following Cardiac conditions:
Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
Cardiac Rehabilitation and Pulmonary Rehabilitation classes are specialised programmes which combine exercise and education components, with the aim of improving physical fitness and the ability to self-manage your condition.
Your Physiotherapist will first assess your individual problem and then devise a specialised treatment plan which may incorporate any or all of the following:
For patients with lung problems:
Breathing exercises – techniques to reduce shortness of breath or aid clearance of mucus/phlegm
Manual techniques – percussion and vibrations to loosen mucus/phlegm.
Positioning - to optimize lung expansion and secretion clearance.
Exercise programmes – improving activity levels and fitness.
Education/Self-Management - advice on the correct use and purpose of inhalers, nebulisers, and oxygen.
For patients with heart problems:
Breathing exercises – techniques to reduce shortness of breath and aid clearance of mucus/ phlegm.
Manual techniques – vibrations to loosen mucus/phlegm
Advice - on the use of inhalers, nebulisers and volumatics.
Advice - on bone health for those who are inactive as a result of their breathing difficulties or for those using oral steroids.
Advice - on thoracic mobility and posture, which are an important part in preventing long-term back problems in patients with breathing difficulties.
Exercise programmes – this can include cardiac rehab classes, heart failure classes, community physiotherapy.
If appropriate, your physiotherapist will liaise with your doctor, hospital consultant or other health care professional, to help you manage your heart/lung condition to the best of your ability.