Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy
A big portion of the patients I work with are diagnosed with cardiopulmonary impairments. CHF, STEMI, cardiac tamponade, respiratory distress, lung collapse - the list goes on and on. Checking lab values for BNP and troponin is an essential part of my chart review.
However, this is probably the one subject in school I struggled with. A lot of anatomy and physiology is difficult to understand. I remember many endless nights of reviewing bronchioles, myocardial functions and cardiac vessel anatomy. Most PT students find orthopedic injuries easier to comprehend and treat versus sternal precautions and tidal volumes for a patient post-CABG.
I wish I would have emphasized more of my studying in this area while I was in school and had the time to do so. I would like to get into the habit of recognizing arrhythmias, and their implications, at first glance of an EKG. I want to feel more comfortable with improving trunk mobility, and therefore inspiratory volume for my patients who have difficulty breathing.
In the great state of Wisconsin, there are two cardiac clinical specialists (CCS), compared to 68 orthopedic clinical specialists (OCS). Numbers don't lie - there is obviously a heavier emphasis on ortho-based practices in our PT practice.
Which leads me to a question - how do you feel about treating patients with cardiac impairments? Is this a frequent occurrence in your practice, or are cardiopulmonary diagnoses more of a rare comorbidity for your patients? Do you wish you knew more about cardiology?