Respiratory Physiotherapy

How little-known techniques can complement the treatment of lung diseases

Respiratory physiotherapy is specialized in the respiratory system. It can provide solutions for children and adults suffering from frequent respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and COPD. We'll tell you how their techniques can help you.

Diseases in which Respiratory Physiotherapy can help

Respiratory physiotherapy can help in rhinitis, colds, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, COPD, bronchiectasis and many more respiratory diseases… All of them, really. We can even assist in the management of asthma, a disease that was considered a non-physiotherapy-physiopeutizable disease, but which in recent studies has been shown to make us wrong.

Respiratory physiotherapy also helps in the rehabilitation of heart disease, especially in those heart diseases that require surgical intervention, integrating into cardiac rehabilitation programs, in addition to therapeutic education and therapeutic physical activity.

What does respiratory physiotherapy do?- Removes excessive mucus from the nose and lungs- Improves respiratory mechanics- Helps in the management and choice of therapeutic physical activity

– Participates in therapeutic education (nasal cleaning, inhaled medication…)

Respiratory Physiotherapy in adults

In the case of adults, the variety of diseases is more important than in children. Hence the importance of working correctly all the steps to follow to ensure optimal results:

  • Work on improving nasal hygiene.
  • Auscultate to detect bronchial secretions and decide if it is necessary to help remove bronchial secretions and/or put an isotonic seawater mask to help move the mucus more easily.
  • Look at how the body moves during breathing and assess the possibility of introducing exercises to improve this movement.
  • Talk about physical activity and how to improve it. Respiratory gymnastics groups can be proposed.
  • In case of asthma, anxiety and/or sleep apnea, it is valued to introduce exercises of the Buteyko method.
  • Check that taking inhaled therapies is performed correctly. Respiratory Physiotherapy in PaediatricsIn respiratory physiotherapy in pediatrics, what we treat, above all, is the presence of mucus. Colds, acute bronchitis or repetition, pneumonia: they are very common respiratory problems in terms of pediatrics and where respiratory physiotherapy plays a complementary role to medication, while irreplaceable. Currently, however, the asthma of children over three years before the arrival of crises is also beginning, using the Buteyko method (a breathing technique that helps medication to decrease bronchial inflammation and its consequences).

    Depending on the age, respiratory physiotherapy has some specificities:

    • 0-3 years: the techniques are completely passive, since they can not help us, and take into account the little pulmonary and physical maturation of the babies.
    • Between 3 and 6 years, we can start asking for the participation of children in an active way, and even more from 6 years, when pulmonary maturation already makes colateral ventilation appear and makes bronchial drainage more effective in all areas.
    • From the age of 12, the respiratory physiotherapy that is performed is already as we would in adults, since it is already considered that pulmonary maturation has been completely done.

    A good session of respiratory physiotherapy, and especially in pediatrics, should consist of the following parts:

    • Anamnesis
    • Auscultation
    • Nasal hygiene
    • Isotonic seawater nebulization or physiological serum
    • Bronchial drainage


    Before starting the session, physiotherapist and family should be able to sit down and talk about the reason for the visit, the medication that the child is taking as well as have time for the physiotherapist to assess the type of breathing and everything that can help in the development of the session


    It allows us to locate which anatomical part of the lung has the problem, while indicating whether the problem is deep, medium or shallow levels.

    Nasal hygiene:

    is essential for good breathing. A clean nose will help us improve the drainage of secretions from deeper body parts.


    It helps us prepare secretions to make it easier to mobilize them, even if we don't put medication on them.

    Bronchial drainage:

    Indispensable to evacuate bronchial secretions quickly and effectively. Adapting the techniques to the type of secretions and the area where they are located. Currently, clapping and other techniques called "classic" are totally discouraged. It is recommended to work with techniques called slow expiration, such as Autogen Drainage and ElPr (and EU counterparts for ADULTS ELTGOL), which make moving secretions avoiding bronchospasms and other unwanted side effects.

    Anna Ferdinand Red

    Physiotherapist specializing in the respiratory system.

    Collegiate Member 4646

    Centre Inspira't Physiotherapy (Alcover), Associate Professor at the URV and EUSES Terres de l'Ebre

    Article published in issue 89 of the journal "Fer salut" of the EAP Alt Camp Oest (CAP Alcover)

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