The Impact of Hurricane Irene on the Physical Therapy World

How Deep Breathing Exercises Can Help


By Physical Therapist Assistant Kelly Ann Young

Our entire state was affected in some way or another with the recent hurricane.  In the days following the storm, it became apparent that our job as physical therapists was not just in physical healing, but helping with emotional healing as well.

On our first day back in the office, we were operating on generator power with some lighting.  We were unable to operate our electrical stimulation or ultrasound machines and we had no ice or hot packs.  We relied on our hands and hearts to soothe peoples aching muscles and broken hearts.  They had been physically battered by days of moving furniture and preparing for the storm, cleaning up flooded basements and homes, and enduring days without power, yet they trickled into the office one by one and proved that the resilience of our patients is commendable.

Physical therapy can help you relax and deep breathing may be useful following a stressful event:

Deep Breathing Exercises:

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight.  Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Breathe in through your nose.  The hand on your stomach should rise and the hand on your chest should not move much.
  • Exhale through your mouth, gently pushing out as much air as you can.  The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale and the hand on your chest should not move much.
  • Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly trying to inhale enough so that your stomach rises and falls.  Repeat for 5 minutes.
  • If you become breathless at any point, resume normal breathing.

This small act may not seem like much, but studies have shown that practicing deep breathing can decrease blood pressure and heart rate and has also been shown to “enhance the way one feels and relax from daily stresses, resulting in better focus and mental stamina.” according to


Photo Credit: Tojosan

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