COPD and Physical Therapy

COPD and Physical Therapy

April 6, 2023

COPD is a chronic lung disease that worsens over time. COPD can cause many different symptoms, including trouble breathing and coughing up blood. COPD has been linked to smoking, but COPD can also be caused by other factors like aging or genetics. Physical therapy for COPD patients is an important part of the recovery process because it helps with mobility problems and muscle weakness. This blog post will discuss Kaeo Physical Therapy’s approach to treating COPD!

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and includes diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. There is no cure for COPD but through good medical management as well as appropriate exercise prescription symptoms can be improved allowing for a better quality of life.

At Kaeo Physical Therapy, Dr. Hillebrand specializes in respiratory dysfunction including COPD, pectus excavatum, and post-covid respiratory difficulties, otherwise Known As Long Haulers syndrome. He also speaks around the country to other rehab professionals when teaching courses on COPD.

There are two types of lung disorders. When is obstructive and the other one is restrictive. Emphysema is an example of an obstructive lung disorder and Asthma is an example of a restrictive lung disorder. Obstructive lung disease can be thought of as the inability to get air out that’s why these patients how often have a barrel chest appearance as the disease progresses. Their lungs are continuing to fill with air and their inability to get the air out causes that barrel-shaped appearance. COP

These patients often have an increased work of breathing and this can lead to significant muscle weakness/tightness in the neck, chest back, abdominal wall, or all three areas depending on what type of COPD they may be suffering from. The use of neck and shoulder muscles to breathe is inefficient and often requires more energy leading two individuals to wear out sooner trying to do basic activities. When you watch someone with COPD attempt to breathe it is often fast and shallow. This contributes to multiple common complaints like dryness of the nose mouth and throat, a dry nagging cough, rapid heart rate, and increased anxiety, along with several others.

Individuals with COPD often report that they need a fan in order to breathe since it gives the perception that they are able to get more air in. However, it is an issue with getting the air back out that is the problem. But one thing the fan seems to do is reduce anxiety as it cools the body which contributes to this effect.

These individuals also benefit from using a humidifier to help offset some of the side effects of rapid breathing by moistening the airways. A small personal humidifier runs about $10 on many online stores.

These individuals also greatly benefit from an exercise program. A properly designed exercise program with a focus on breathing, especially diaphragmatic breathing, can improve lung function and better manage symptoms allowing the individual to have a better quality of life and greater independence due to the improved endurance.

Breathing exercises can be done in multiple positions and adjusted both to make them easier or harder based on what the patient is capable of doing. Dr. Hillebrand focuses on assessing the patient’s needs and tailoring their program to best meet their needs both in the short-term and long-term.

At Kaeo Physical Therapy, we will look at each patient individually and develop a treatment plan based on their specific needs whether they are having trouble breathing when walking up/down stairs or just getting into bed. We will also address any other movement dysfunction such as shoulder pain if it is interfering with activities like putting socks on, daily living tasks like cooking dinner, etc. The goal is not only improving functional mobility but also increasing endurance so these activities are much easier.

If you or someone you know is having trouble breathing, please call us today and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also schedule an appointment via email/phone/text.


– Trouble Breathing

– Physical Therapy

– Kaeo Physical Therapy

– Dr. Hillebrand

– Respiratory Dysfunction

– Respiratory Rehab

– COPD Treatment Plan

– Treatment for COPD at Home

For more information on COPD or for scheduling an appointment, please call our office at (317) 854-6433 or email us at .

You can also visit our website at .

Dr. Anthony Hillebrand, DPT

Kaeo Physical Therapy

39 N US HWY 31

Whiteland, IN 46184

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