Respiratory therapists, also known as respiratory care practitioners, provide treatment, evaluation, monitoring, and management of patients with breathing disorders or cardiovascular problems. Care provided by respiratory therapists includes administering oxygen, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, managing mechanical ventilators, monitoring cardiopulmonary systems, measuring lung function, and administering drugs to the lungs.
Therapists regularly monitor patients and equipment. If the patient is having difficulty, or if the oxygen, carbon dioxide, or pH level of the blood is abnormal, therapists change the ventilator settings according to the physician’s order or check equipment for mechanical problems. Respiratory therapists perform chest physiotherapy on patients to remove mucus from their lungs and improve breathing. For example, during surgery, anesthesia depresses respiration, and this chest physiotherapy may be prescribed to return the patient’s lungs to normal functioning and prevent congestion.
When an FSHD patient is suspected of having respiratory insufficiency, a pulmonologist will usually refer the patient to a respiratory therapist for instruction and help with exercises and use of ventilation equipment.
See also the section on Breathing.
For general information about respiratory therapists, see the following website: