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What is a respiratory therapist?
Respiratory therapists are specially trained healthcare professionals who help treat and restore function for patients with airway and breathing problems. They often assess and treat patients with the following conditions:
- tracheostomy tubes (a special type of breathing tube for patients unable to breathe through their mouth and nose) and oxygen therapy
- ventilators (machines that breathe for patients with certain conditions, such as spinal cord injuries, who are unable to breathe on their own)
- chronic heart or lung problems that require breathing treatments and assistance
They may work in various settings in rehabilitation, including neurological (nervous system), cardiac (heart), and pulmonary (lungs) settings. Respiratory therapists may practice in a variety of settings, including the following:
- inpatient rehabilitation centers
- home health settings
- long-term care facilities
- private practice
Respiratory therapists may have either an Associate or undergraduate degree in respiratory therapy, and many are either registered or certified in their specialty.