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Chronic airway diseases are actually a group of diseases. These diseases are also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic airway diseases can cause significant changes to a patient’s quality of life. However, physical therapy can help.
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Diseases included in chronic airway disease are chronic bronchitis and emphysema, for example. Many other diseases that limit or restrict breathing are also included. It is most often caused by smoking, but may also be caused by inhaling other irritants, such as those in the workplace. Chronic airway disease is more common in the elderly.
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Along with shortness of breath, the patient is likely to have wheezing and frequent coughing. He will produce large amounts of sputum, sometimes blood-stained. The lips and fingers will have a blue color because he is not getting enough oxygen, and for the same reason, the heart will also have problems.
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Physical therapy can help chronic airway disease in many ways. One of them is breathing retraining. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The physical therapist works with the patient, teaching him how to breathe to take in the most air while eliminating the most wheezing. This can be a great help for people with chronic airway disease.
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Another method physical therapists use for patients with chronic airway disease is called tapping and postural drainage. Postural drainage is accomplished in part by positioning the body so that the affected lung is located over the trachea.
Many people do this at home by lying in bed and bending the upper part of the body over it. A physical therapist will teach a person how to do this in order to allow the lungs to drain. Soon after, people with chronic airway disease will do this procedure on their own.
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Another part of the help for people with chronic airway disease is called tapping. This is done by squeezing and tapping the back with the hands to loosen secretions from the chest. This is also known as chest tapping. A physical therapist will do this procedure and teach it to a family member or caregiver.
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People with chronic airway disease often have problems with weakness in their legs. This is because, due to their breathing difficulties, they avoid walking or doing any form of physical exercise. In such cases, the goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the legs through treadmill walking or stationary bicycle exercises. However, this can only be done if the patient is well enough.
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It is equally important to adjust the arms of patients with chronic airway disease. Most daily tasks rely heavily on the arms. Exercises that focus on the arms do not only strengthen the muscles of the arms. They can also help the patient begin to breathe better.
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Chronic airway disease is a condition that can benefit from physical therapy. The physical therapist treating the patient must have expertise in this type of treatment. With the advent of modern treatment methods, simple approaches may be overlooked. However, physical therapists who understand this technique can make a big difference in the lives of their patients.