Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes breathing difficulty and leads to other systemic problems. Smoking causes most cases of COPD, which is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. It's estimated that by 2030, COPD will be the third leading cause of death worldwide. Although COPD used to be more common among men, it now affects women nearly as equally in developed countries.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help? 


Your physical therapist will perform an evaluation that includes:

  • A review of your history, including smoking history, exposure to toxic chemicals or dust, conditions other than COPD, and hospitalizations related to your breathing problems
  • A review of your medications
  • Assessment of what makes your symptoms worse and what relieves them
  • Review of lung function test results
  • Muscle strength tests
  • Walk tests to measure your exercise capacity
  • Tests of your balance and your risk of falling

Your physical therapist will serve as an important member of your health care team and will work closely with you to design a program that takes into account your goals for treatment. Your physical therapist's overall goal is to help you to continue to do your roles in the home, at work, and in the community.

Physical therapists can work with your pulmonary rehabilitation team or with you individually to help improve:Your exercise capacityYour overall strengthYour quality of lifeReference:

Reference: American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)