Cystic Fibrosis Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy management for Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) primarily affects the lungs and digestive system because of a malfunction in the exocrine system, responsible for producing saliva, sweat, tears and mucus.

There is currently no cure. People with CF develop an abnormal amount of excessively thick and sticky mucus within the lungs, airways and the digestive system. The mucus causes impairment of the digestive functions of the pancreas and traps bacteria in the lungs resulting in recurrent infections which lead to irreversible damage. Lung failure is the major cause of death for someone with CF.


From birth, a person with CF undergoes constant medical treatments and physiotherapy.

Management and treatment of CF is lifelong, ongoing and relentless. A person with CF may consume up to 40 capsules daily to help digest food and may need to do up to three hours of airway clearance each day. It is important for people with CF to visit a CF treatment centre several times each year so that their progress can be monitored.

  • Treatment generally involves:

  • Intensive daily physiotherapy to clear the lungs

  • Enzyme replacement capsules with food to aid digestion

  • Antibiotic therapy to treat lung infections

  • Aerosol mist inhalations via a nebuliser to help open the airways

  • Salt and vitamin supplements

  • A nutritious, high calorie, high salt, high fat diet

  • Exercise – important to help clear the airways and build core strength.

 All this before they even start their normal daily activities like going to school or work.

Source: Cystic Fibrosis Australia

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