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Breathing Works for Asthma.

Breathing Works for Asthma. Dinah Bradley & Tania Clifton-Smith 2002 Tandem Press ISBN: 1 877298 00 X softcover, 118 pages. RRP NZ$24.95

The book was written by two New Zealand Physiotherapists who specialise in managing breathing disorders. The target audience is asthmatics and laypeople seeking to know more about asthma management although the student or health professional seeking more knowledge about asthma and associated breathing disorders will also find it informative. Breathing Works For Asthma is the latest in a range of publications by the authors that relate to breathing disorders, particularly hyperventilation. An international market for the books is now well established. The publication is timely as it is now more widely recognised by health professionals that there are some subjects with asthma-like symptoms who do not meet the sensitive diagnostic criteria for asthma. Also there are asthmatics that have very poor breathing control and breathing efficiency. The book is particularly useful as a self-management tool for both these groups.

A comprehensive description of the mechanics of breathing, breathing control, patterns of breathing and exercise to improve breathing efficiency is presented as well as the effect of posture on breathing efficiency and hints on ways to maintain good posture. At times the text begins to get a little detailed for the layperson but overall the content is useful as a background to understanding more about one's own body and taking ownership for breathing control.

Breathing Works For Asthma is up to date on asthma management. Although it is not referenced it has a comprehensive appendix that includes information on asthma medications; techniques for inhaler use, websites for useful resources and regional contacts for asthma groups in New Zealand.

The book is filled with useful analogies, for example "your chest is like a bird cage..." that are helpful for the layperson who is trying to grasp an overview of respiratory anatomy and physiology as they read.

Each chapter includes comments from clients. These add a personal touch and are helpful for the asthmatic who recognise their own symptoms and may subsequently seek advice and therapy.

The authors declare in the book that they own and manage Breathing Works Clinics and do make some recommendations on adjuncts to therapy and home remedies such as the nasal wash. However they also make it clear to the reader that they should seek advice from a physiotherapist or other health professional as appropriate.

The book is an easy size for a desktop or waiting room table. It is generally well illustrated with client profiles and sketches of thoracic wall mechanics, postural relationships and breathing exercises. A dedicated section on exercises may have helped the reader to link the content of the chapters they had read with relevant exercises, as the information became repetitive at times and thus the interest in the content was lost.

The expertise that a physiotherapist has in managing breathing disorders is certainly emphasised by the authors in Breathing Works For Asthma. Hopefully physiotherapists who read the book will be inspired to support the path that these professional colleagues have taken by managing people with breathing disorders more effectively and efficiently. For the lay reader, particularly the one with signs of asthma, this book will be an invaluable part of their self-management.

Margot A Skinner DipPhty, MPhEd, MNZSP
COPYRIGHT 2004 New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Skinner, Margot A.
Publication:New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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