Respiratory rehabilitation

Intensive care for patients on mechanical ventilation

respiratory department, Reuth rehabilitation centerDue to various reasons such as severe lung disease, surgical procedures, comatose condition or trauma, a situation might arise in which the lungs are unable to fully saturate the blood with oxygen.  In such situations it is necessary to use artificial lung ventilation.  The patient is connected to an apparatus for artificial lung ventilation (ALV), which pumps a mixture of oxygen and compressed dried air into the lungs in order to saturate the blood with oxygen and to remove carbon dioxide.

ALV is usually disconnected after two weeks, when the patient starts breathing on his own.  But in some cases (approximately 10%) independent breathing is not restored, and a tracheotomy must be performed in order to insert a breathing tube.  If this becomes necessary, it means that the patient’s condition is very serious, and the prevention of complications associated with this condition becomes the highest priority.

It is important to understand that the goal of any rehabilitation program is not only to maintain his vital functions but also to return the patient as much as possible to quality active living.  In terms of respiratory rehabilitation this means implementation of improvement of pulmonary tissue and cleansing of the respiratory tract.  The professional team in this rehabilitation process is composed of lung specialists, physiotherapists and psychologists who work with the patient.  This comprehensive team effort aims to ensure that the patient starts breathing spontaneously as soon as possible.  A variety of procedures help to achieve this goal, including:

  • respiratory gymnastics
  • the use of special equipment
  • massage (including ultrasonic massage)
  • physical training aimed at strengthening the diaphragm and chest muscles

On average the respiratory rehabilitation stage takes about six weeks.  Patients after trauma and accidents recover faster than those with impaired respiratory function due to lung diseases.  Even those patients who have to use ALV permanently can fully adapt to life at home.  The clinic staff works with the families of the patients by teaching them how to take care of the patients, and how to use the necessary equipment.