What kind of patients do respiratory therapists help and how do they help them?
A respiratory therapist is trained and licensed to care for patients with breathing problems.
Respiratory therapists help all kinds of patients. Conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis affect patients of all ages while some conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affect primarily older patients who smoke or have been exposed to chemical fumes or other pollutants. Respiratory therapists can also help athletes measure their aerobic capacity or oxygen uptake to optimize training and performance.
Patients with chronic lung conditions often work with respiratory therapists who perform tests to assess lung function and administer breathing treatments. Respiratory therapists provide patients with education about their lung condition and show them how to properly use medications and assistive breathing equipment at home. They also teach lifestyle modifications that can help the patient improve their daily activities in the presence of chronic lung disease. Smoking cessation classes are often taught by respiratory therapists.
Respiratory therapists also help patients in the emergency room and intensive care units who need breathing assistance with a ventilator. Respiratory therapists are also present in the birth center during C-section deliveries to stimulate the baby to start breathing after birth and to assist in airway clearance.