–   JUNE 2021   –

Why people with neurological conditions experience chronic respiratory issues

Connecting the dots between neuro and respiratory conditions
The link between neurological conditions and co-existing respiratory conditions impacts so many people, and yet it is not being given the focused attention it urgently requires. At Active Edge Physio, we are passionate about taking a personalised holistic approach to health, considering the intricate interconnections throughout the whole body, as opposed to viewing it in isolated sections.

Time and again, we see people with neurological conditions, such as spinal cord injury (SCI), Guillain-Barré syndrome (GPS), stroke, brain injury, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy(CIDP), motor neurone disease (MND), myasthenia gravis (MG), and rare degenerative neurological conditions experiencing pneumonia, difficulty taking a deep breath or coughing effectively. Typically, they will be referred to their doctor and prescribed antibiotics, only for the respiratory condition to repeat soon after the course of antibiotics is complete. This cycle can continue in a never-ending loop, causing great discomfort and frustration.


What’s really going on inside the body? 

When someone has a brain injury, a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or a deficit in their neurological system, it doesn’t just impact their arms and legs. The muscles around their lungs will also be impacted. If there are weak muscles around the lungs, it means that you can’t breathe or cough properly. In someone with a neurological disorder, muscle weakness is a big factor in terms of how they clear any secretions from their lungs. Sometimes, they also lose sensation in their throat, so they won’t feel if any saliva has trickled down the back of their throat. This will then enter the lungs, instead of being swallowed and going into the stomach, causing infections that keep coming back and never fully heal. 


How Active Physio can help

A physiotherapist or a doctor will often specialise in either respiratory issues, or neurological issues, but not both. Therefore, a neurological physiotherapist will bring in a lung physiotherapist to do a one-off consult, then continue to keep independently treating the condition. However, this is not in a patient’s best interest to work in this way, as there is no one-size-fits-all recipe that will apply in all situations.

This is where our service is completely different. Practice owner, Jacqui Agostinello, specialises in neuro respiratory physio, where she has expertise in both neurological and respiratory issues, and how the two are so closely interlinked. As Jacqui has worked in intensive care for an extensive period of her career, and also in neuro rehab, these are two specialisms that don’t usually go together. Consequently, Jacqui is coming from a unique position of expertise, not typically found in healthcare professionals’ skill sets.

Jacqui knows it is possible to prevent chest infections by implementing basic changes to people’s care routine. It is also possible to reduce the severity of the chest infections or respiratory issues, should they arise. This tackles the endless cycle of antibiotics, where patients develop a resistance to the medicine because it doesn’t treat the cause, only the symptom.

Knowing how imperative it is to treat the lungs and neuro aspects simultaneously and consistently, Jacqui works with her experienced team, who are all specialised in neurological rehabilitation; both services complement one another.

Treatment needs to look at the patient as a whole person; their body needs to be viewed holistically, not compartmentalised. When it comes to choosing the best healthcare provider, look for someone who has the skills to problem solve and consider all the complexities as a whole. There is so much overlap between neuro and the respiratory system that you need to be treated by someone who has knowledge of all the conditions as a whole.  


Get the right support for neurological and respiratory conditions

Please book a free 15-minute consultation with our team here at Active Edge Physio. Alternatively, complete the referral form online and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours (on week days) to explore the best way forward.