NICE puts physios centre stage in COPD management

Specialist physiotherapists have welcomed the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) updated guidelines on the diagnosis and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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The guidelines put a much-needed focus on physiotherapy for COPD

The latest guidelines, which focus on people aged over 16, recommend respiratory physiotherapy for people with exacerbations.

Rachael Colclough, long-term conditions champion for the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care (ACPRC), said the recommendation should make the case for more physiotherapists to access patients quickly in the community, as well as hospital.

She said ACPRC had contributed to the revision and that the latest guidelines put a much-needed focus on physiotherapy.

They include the role of physiotherapists in managing excessive sputum through expiratory pressure devices and active cycle of breathing techniques.

‘This highlights how physios should be teaching people with COPD how to clear their chests,’ said Ms Colclough.

‘This is good because, until now, chest clearing has not been high on the agenda of COPD management, and it’s one of our core competencies.’

NICE says that physios could be the first point of contact for managing stable COPD. It lists pulmonary rehab as one of the non-pharmacological treatments that should be offered to patients.

Ms Colclough also said that pulmonary rehab was chronically underfunded. She pointed to the Royal College of Physicians’ Pulmonary Rehabilitation Audit, adding that it would provide ‘great information on access to these services.’

‘The audit feeds into the NICE recommendations that pulmonary rehab should be offered to every patient who would benefit from the intervention.’

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by Louise Hunt

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