What is the Respiratory System?
The respiratory system's main function is to supply oxygen to blood. It allows gas exchange to all parts of the body. It includes the airways, lungs and the respiratory muscles. Molecules and oxygen are exchanged by diffusion. This "exchange process" of the oxygen occurs in the alveolar region of the lungs. The pathway of the air we inhale is as follows: Air enters the nostrils or the mouth, then passes through the nasopharynx, then to the oral pharynx, through the glottis, into the trachea, next into the right and left bronchi (which break into the bronchioles), the bronchiloes end in a cluster of alveoli.

Respiratory System -This website will help you better understand the Respiratory System
Respiratory System - This website will help you better understand the Respiratory System

Source: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Pulmonary.html


Some common Diseases and Disorders Related to the Respiratory System

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
    • One of the most common lung diseases.
    • Chronic Bronchitis - A form of COPD that causes a long term coughing with mucus
    • Emphysema - Another form of COPD that causes destruction of the lungs over time
  • Asthma
    • A chronic disease that affects your airways
    • The inside of the airways become sore and swollen
    • This causes wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing
  • Lung Cancer
    • One of the most common cancers in the world
    • Cigarette smoking causes most lung cancers
    • Common symptoms include: a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse, constant chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, weight loss, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Sources: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/lungdiseases.html
Respiratory System - Another website to help you better understand this system.

How does the Respiratory System apply to Occupational Therapy?

As an OTA we would address Energy Conservation, Stress Management, Medication Management, Exercise and Activities of Daily Living.

Energy Conservation:
If we were addressing energy conservation with our patient treatment would focus on discussing ways to perform daily activities in the simplest way possible while saving as much energy as possible. We would talk about using adaptive equipment such as Long Handled Reachers, Shower Benches, Wheelchairs, and Grab Bars.
Stress Management:
If we were addressing Stress Management with our patients we would discuss positive ways to express our feelings. We would talk about alternative ways to deal with our emotions and negative situations that may come up. We would discuss deep breathing, listening to music, taking a break, and doing activities that they enjoy.
Medication Management:
If we were addressing Medication Management we would discuss the importance of taking your medication as directed. If they were having problems remembering when to take their medicine we would set up reminders and give them a pill box so they know which ones to take and when to take them.
Exercise and ADL's:
If we were addressing exercising and ADL's with the patient we would focus on ways to safely exercise and perform Activities of Daily Living. We would discuss exercises that our patient can do from a seated position to save energy while receiving the benefits of exercise. As discussed with energy conservation, we would use the same adaptive equipment to perform ADL's