Respiratory therapy is provided for infants, children, adults, and older adults who are having difficulty breathing. Difficulty breathing can result from an array of medical conditions, everything from childhood asthma to life-threatening illnesses, such as acute respiratory syndrome. In most cases, respiratory intervention is necessary and beneficial. For severe cases, respiratory therapy involves managing ventilators and artificial airway devices for people who cannot breathe on their own, making this treatment necessary for sustaining life. Respiratory therapy also involves specialized breathing assessments, which are necessary for providing effective treatment for those in need. Respiratory therapists assess and diagnose breathing disorders by conducting interviews; performing tests, such as X-rays; and analyzing breathing, tissue and blood work [source: AARC].
Respiratory therapy also provides effective relief for people with asthma by administering medication and supplemental oxygen. This form of therapy can also stabilize a critical care patient after an emergency, provide life-saving treatment for high-risk or premature infants, and help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Finally, respiratory therapists also provide valuable information to those with breathing problems. Respiratory therapists educate the public about treating breathing problems at home due to influenza or colds. They also are a key part of education programs for various breathing-related conditions, such as lung cancer and asthma. Respiratory therapists provide hands-on, one-on-one assistance to those who need to use and maintain a breathing-assisted device on their own. Respiratory therapists provide education to patients, other health care professionals, and the community at large through seminars, lectures, and one-on-one therapy sessions [source: CSRT]. The scope of respiratory therapy is far reaching, encompassing the entire life spectrum and many different serious and common medical conditions. As such, respiratory therapy is an important and necessary medical intervention for many people.