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Respiratory Therapists Help Ease Chronic Conditions

Respiratory Therapists Help Ease Chronic Conditions

Cindy Mehallow, Monster Contributing Writer

Learning to Adapt

Cigarette smoking causes most cases of COPD, the fourth leading cause of death in the US. RTs treat hospitalized COPD patients by administering supplemental oxygen or initiating breathing treatment. Once their condition has become stable, COPD patients often enter pulmonary rehabilitation.

Irreversible lung damage makes breathing difficult for COPD patients, so RTs help patients cope with chronic shortness of breath. “The focus may be on adaptation, rather than rehabilitation, because patients may never fully resume their previous activities,” says Gretchen Lawrence, RRT, FAARC, program associate for the National Lung Health Education Program.

Besides teaching proper medication use and breathing exercises such as effective cough techniques, RTs may also develop personalized exercise programs and encourage smokers to quit.

RTs who staff pulmonary rehab units frequently have earned specialized credentials in pulmonary function technology from the National Board for Respiratory Care.


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