Safety and Efficacy of Chest Physiotherapy in Patients With COVID-19: A Critical Review

Link to article at PubMed

Front Med (Lausanne). 2020 Jul 21;7:454. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2020.00454. eCollection 2020.

ABSTRACT

The present global pandemic of COVID-19 has brought the whole world to a standstill, causing morbidity, death, and changes in personal roles. The more common causes of morbidity and death in these patients include pneumonia and respiratory failure, which cause the patients to require artificial ventilation and other techniques that can improve respiratory function. One of these techniques is chest physiotherapy, and this has been shown to improve gas exchange, reverse pathological progression, and reduce or avoid the need for artificial ventilation when it is provided very early in other respiratory conditions. For patients with COVID-19, there is limited evidence on its effect, especially in the acute stage and in patients on ventilators. In contrast, in patients after discharge, chest physiotherapy in the form of respiratory muscle training, cough exercise, diaphragmatic training, stretching exercise, and home exercise have resulted in improved FEV1 (L), FVC (L), FEV1/FVC%, diffusing lung capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO%), endurance, and quality of life, and a reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms. However, there are still controversies on whether chest physiotherapy can disperse aerosols and accelerate the rate of spread of the infection, especially since COVID-19 is highly contagious. While some authors believe it is possible, others believe the aerosol generated by chest physiotherapy is not within respirable range. Therefore, measures such as the use of surgical masks, tele-rehabilitation, and self-management tools can be used to limit cross-infection.

PMID:32793618 | PMC:PMC7385182 | DOI:10.3389/fmed.2020.00454

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