Exercise for airway clearance in Cystic fibrosis

Exercise is often used as a substitute for respiratory physiotherapy in CF, but do we have evidence for that?

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetically inherited disease that predisposes people to a range of complications, with chronic lung infection often being the most problematic. While many people born with CF used to die in childhood or adolescence, management of CF is has improved a lot, such that most now live to adulthood.

Traditionally, one of the recommended components of management are manual physiotherapy techniques designed to clear the airways of infection.

Some similar techniques that the patient can apply independently have also been developed. However, a recent survey of 692 adults with CF has shown that many of these patients elect to use exercise as a substitute for traditional airway clearance techniques. 

Another interesting finding of the survey was that personal experience of participants was a dominant driver of their decision making. Only 7% of participants reported that advice from a physiotherapist was a basis for their beliefs, as opposed to 85% who cited personal experience.

This finding highlights that clinicians should take the time to explore a patient’s beliefs and personal experience as part of the process for prescribing new or modified exercise and airway clearance regimens.

> From: Ward, J Physiother 65 (2019) 43-50 . All rights reserved to the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the online summary.

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