Breath, and the Interconnectedness of Our Bodies

I found myself frequently referencing the handout I had been given by our cardiopulmonary instructor, and running to adjust my classmate partner who was playing my “patient”. My second year PT class was spread out across the tables we usually used in orthopedics, every single pillow, bolster and prop in use as we attempted to prop our faux patients.

We were well into our cardiopulmonary class, and spending time in a rare pulmonary lab instruction. Our professor had instructed us in the positions to place patients to facilitate the expansion (or contraction) of various lobes* of the lungs. By placing the patient on their right side in a comfortable way and propping a small towel roll under the right ribcage, we not only opened the thoracic facets and costovertebral joints of the left (as we had learned in orthopedics), we also facilitated the expansion of the lobes of the left lung.

By changing the towel roll placement, moving the head of the bed or the patient’s arm position, we could selectively help a patient inflate the superior or inferior lobe.

It was during this class that I had two “a ha” moments:

1) All of the systems of the body are interrelated

This was painfully clear from day one in Gross Anatomy when a slight heaviness in my hand with my scalpel could clear away not just the ubiquitous fascia I were hoping to cut, but also annihilate the subtle and important nerve structures I sought to expose.