Cardiorespiratory conditions: Physiotherapy’s Role

Keywords: Lungs, smoking, cardiorespiratory, bronchiectasis, COPD, ARDS, Cystic fibrosis, CABG, Pneumonia, asthma, physiotherapy

Speak to any person off the street and ask them what a Physio does and they will reply ‘they treat sport injuries’. Cardiorespiratory is one of the least publicised aspect of physiotherapy however plays a vital role (alongside the MDT) in maintaining good oxygen levels, good breathing patterns and good positioning in order to save lives.

Cardiorespiratory Guidelines (European respiratory society)

The ERS provides a huge online learning resource which provides information on conditions, examination, treatments and videos. A resource not to be missed. Navigating around the site can be a little tricky at first purely due to the extensive amount of information. The links below take your directly to a few areas however be sure to have a little look around because there are lots of lectures, journals and clinical expert reviews

Lung Examination Video (includes observation/palpation/percussion/auscultation/lung sounds)Be sure to access this resource before attempting our cardiorespiratory quizzes which will be coming shortly to Physiowizz: Student room.

Common Cardiorespiratory Conditions treated with physiotherapy

  • Bronchiectasis
  • COPD
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Respiratory failure (Type 1 and 2)
  • CABG
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung Collapse
  • Asthma

Cardiorespiratory –  Patient Information Sheets

Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridgeshire offer clear advice sheets for patients on the following:

Breathlessness – Fact sheet 1 : Information and commonly asked questions.
Breathlessness  – Fact Sheet 2 – Breathing Methods and positions to ease breathlessness.
Breathlessness – Fact sheet 3 – Handheld fan.
Breathlessness – Fact Sheet 4 – Managing your energy
Breathlessness – Fact Sheet 5 – Relaxation
Breathlessness –  Fact sheet 6 – Shortness of breath and your diet.
Breathlessness – Fact Sheet 7 – Mindfulness


ALex Hough

Alex Hough has kindly given permission to display her own advice sheets for patients. She advises that you will need to assess whether these are suitable for your patients, adjust them as appropriate, and if using them in the NHS;

  • Get them checked by your Trust
  • Add your name and contact details.
  • Go through them with patients and sign them before handing them out.
Find out more about Alex at


  • AcapellaThis information sheet explains the use of the Acapella instrument and gives instructions for patient usage.
  • Breathing controlThis information sheet provides information for patients on breathing control through the use of diaphragmatic breathing.
  • ACB + cough suppression: This information sheet provides information for patients on how to clear their chests using the active cycle of breathing.
  • ACB for inpatients: This information sheet provides information for patients on the active cycle of breathing (for inpatients).
  • Bronchiectasis: This information sheet explains bronchiectasis, its causes, diagnosis and treatments.
  • COPD: This information sheet explains chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
  • Diary: The following gives an example of an exercise diary to help improve exercise tolerance.
  • Incentive Spirometry: This information sheet provides information on incentive spirometers and also guides patients in its use.
  • Home Oxygen: This information sheet provides information about home oxygen and its safe use.
  • Panic attacks: This information sheet provides information about panic attacks and appropriate coping strategies.
  • Quads Inpatients: This provides quad exercises for inpatients.
  • Quads Outpatients: This provides quad exercises for outpatients.
  • Relaxation: This information sheet provides information on relaxation.
  • Sleep: This information discusses the importance of good sleep patterns and how to achieve this.
  • Shortness of breath, exercises, pacingThis information sheet provides information on shortness of breath, and how to help reduce this through exercises and pacing.
Extensive references lists can also be found on Alex Hough’s site :

 Useful documents


Salisbury NHS foundation trust

Useful Websites


Share Button

Why not check out...

Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better