November 2022: The benefits of chest physiotherapy in infants

Mr Sébastien Jean, explains the interests of chest physiotherapy in infants:

Currently, “the number of visits to the emergency room for bronchiolitis is very high at levels higher than those observed at epidemic peaks for more than 10 years” (Public Health France).

In 2019, the High Authority for Health issued its recommendations for the management of bronchiolitis in infants UNDER 12 MONTHS HOSPITALIZED in which “chest physiotherapy by increasing expiratory flow (AFE) is not recommended in hospitalized infants. “

This recommendation has obviously been misinterpreted since physiotherapists (health professionals) are no longer solicited, leaving parents in a certain solitude of care leading them to overload hospital services.

And yet the role of the “physiotherapist” does not stop at the AFE.

So why is physiotherapy essential in the management of bronchiolitis in infants?

DETECTION OF SIGNS OF SEVERITY : at each session, the physiotherapist performs a clinical examination based on an interrogation, auscultation, oxygen level taking, monitoring of signs of respiratory distress (specific to the infant and that may go unnoticed). He will therefore be able to reassure the parents or refer the child to the emergency room if necessary.

UPPER AIRWAY UNBLOCKING: Due to the anatomy of the respiratory system, the infant breathes mainly through the nose. When it is obstructed by an accumulation of mucus, the child can no longer eat properly and has difficulty sleeping, which will result in delayed healing or superinfection. The practitioner therefore performs specific gentle and adapted manual techniques without side effects (unlike the aspirator which can have negative impacts on the baby’s nasal mucosa) to free the child’s airway. After the session the baby eats better, sleeps better, gets less tired to the delight of parents often exhausted by sleepless nights!

EDUCATION AND ADVICE: during the physiotherapy session, the health professional teaches parents the gestures of unblocking the upper airway, presents the gestures to be performed to promote healing and avoid recurrence (bedtime position, room temperature, bedroom environment …).

But the essential work of the physiotherapist masseur is to reassure parents worried by the images seen on TV or on social networks: the clapping techniques of our grandparents no longer exist, bronchiolitis of the infant is a benign condition in 97% of cases that heals spontaneously in a few days (with a peak between the 3th and 5th day) without antibiotic therapy, emphasizing common hygiene rules, splitting meals and decongestion of the upper airways on a multi-daily basis.

Your baby is cluttered, sleeps badly, eats little: do not hesitate to consult your physiotherapist!

For an appointment with Mr Jean, click here