What is Respiratory Physical Therapy?

Respiratory physiotherapy, also known as chest physio, is a term used to describe physiotherapy treatments aimed towards treating issues with the lungs. There are a number of conditions treated using respiratory physio such as respiratory infections, chronic respiratory diseases, post-surgery conditions and traumatic injuries such as rib fractures.


What Does a Respiratory Physiotherapist Do?

Physiotherapists are trained in a wide range of techniques to improve lung function. Some of the techniques may include percussion, breathing techniques, airway clearance, specific positioning, secretion removal and the use of breathing devices.


Respiratory physiotherapists assess the patient by listening to the chest and observing how much movement occurs in the diaphragm and ribs. They determine how well the air is flowing through the lungs and if there is an issue with mucus. Once the physiotherapist has determined the patient’s condition, they will recommend the most effective treatment option.


Chest physio is beneficial for almost anyone who has a problem involving lung function and breathing. Many patients are those suffering from chronic illness and disability which involves a build up of mucus in the lungs. This build up makes is difficult to bring enough oxygen into the lungs. This can result in a serious impact on the patient’s health and wellbeing due to a lack of oxygen in the blood.


Respiratory physiotherapists can help to clear these blockages and improve rib movement and air flow. Sometimes this requires regular and ongoing sessions due to the incurable nature of some of these lung disorders.


Respiratory physiotherapy can benefit many patients suffering from lung illnesses and disorders including:


  • Bronchitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Surgery complications
  • Croup
  • Rib injury
  • Emphysema
  • Anxiety and stress


Why is Chest Physiotherapy Important?


Chest physiotherapy is important due to the life-threatening nature of many illnesses and disorders involving the lungs. Chest physio helps to improve lung function and clear built-up mucus in the lungs which can affect oxygen intake. Mucus plugs can prevent areas of the lungs from inflating properly and this prevents air from passing through. Sometimes this mucus can be very difficult to clear, and respiratory physiotherapy plays a very important role in clearing this mucus and maintaining lung function.


What Are the Benefits of Respiratory Physical Therapy?


Chest physio can be beneficial for all ages and a number of conditions that affect the lungs. Respiratory physio is used in all stages of disease, from diagnosis through to acute, chronic and terminal illness. Physiotherapists play an important role in overall patient care including the assessment stage, education and hands-on treatment stage. Some of the other benefits of chest physio include:


  • Improving lung function
  • Reducing breathlessness
  • Improving and maintaining the patient’s ability to tolerate physical activity
  • Improving the ability to participate in daily activities
  • Mobilising and expelling secretions
  • Reducing pain
  • Improving the patient’s quality of life


Respiratory physiotherapy is a valuable treatment for many disorders relating to the lungs. Chest physio helps patients to improve lung function,  remove mucus secretions and manage chronic conditions relating to the lungs. To learn more about respiratory physiotherapy click here ( ).