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Physiotherapy treatment for COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Dr Sonu Singh sheds light on physiotherapy exercises to relieve chest congestion and improve breathing.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes and hence, the treatment approach is aimed at improving the symptoms of COPD and slowing down the inflammation. As the condition cannot be cured, it requires proper management, which can be achieved by physiotherapy. Physiotherapists come up with a strategic approach in coordination with chest physician and rehab specialist to maximise ventilation and improve lung function. Dr Sonu Singh, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist, AktivOrtho shares few physiotherapy exercises for people suffering from COPD.

Postural drainage: This is a chest physiotherapy technique that helps in treating breathing problems which are caused due to excess mucus in the lungs or bronchial tubes. It is used to improve symptoms in people with chronic bronchitis, whereas for people with acute emphysema, it helps in clearing an infection. With postural drainage, you need to get into a position which helps in draining out the fluid from the lungs thereby providing relief. It is necessary for the all the patients suffering from COPD. Here are common causes of chest congestion and remedies.

Clapping and shaking: In this, the expert can use a cupped hand or an instrument (percussor) to remove mucus from the lungs and airways. The clapping of the chest shakes the inside of the chest and loosens the mucus, making it easier for the patient to cough out. If the patient is unable to cough and remove secretions from the lungs, then increased ventilation and humidification by Intermittent Positive Pressure Breathing (IPPB) is recommended.

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Breathing exercises: The aim of this approach is to help diaphragmatic breathing with decreased upper chest movements and relaxed shoulder girdle. As you breathe, the lung segments are expanded, which helps in ventilating the lungs. Another simple variation of this breathing exercise is pursed lip breathing. It involves prolonged expiration, which is useful for people with emphysematous bullae (abnormal airspaces seen in the lungs). Also read about 13 health benefits of deep breathing.

Posture correction: In this, the emphasis is laid on relaxation and control of diaphragmatic movement to improve lung function. The patients are recommended to attain a correct posture so as to ensure maximum relation of the upper chest and the movement of the lower chest. The patient is asked not to bend the head forward which gives a rounded shoulder appearance.

Thoracic mobility exercises: It includes exercises that improve spine health and also prevent kyphosis and fixed inspiration. It is important to maintain a correct posture to perform shoulder girdle retraction and lateral rotation of the arm. Moreover, sitting exercises for COPD include trunk turning, which involves swinging of the neck in rotation with loose arms for relaxation.

The patients are advised to stay active as it helps in improving the symptoms and aids in the management of COPD. Moreover, lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking and eating sensibly play a key role in treating the condition. Here are 6 signs that your LUNGS are in trouble!

Read this in Hindi.

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