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Cardiopulm Phys Ther J. 2013 Mar;24(1):24-30.

A pilot study exploring the role of physical therapists and transition in care of pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis to the adult setting.

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  • 1Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, PA.



Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disease that requires intensive multidisciplinary care, including care by physical therapists (PTs). People with CF are now living well into adulthood, necessitating a transfer of care from the pediatric setting to an adult one. Physical therapists play a large role in the care of the person with CF; however, there is little known about the PT role in transition of care.


To explore transition issues for people with CF from the perspective of PTs.


An 18-question online survey was sent to PTs via an electronic CF listserv. Questions were derived from an analysis of transition literature in CF and other chronic childhood conditions. Physical therapists who reported treating people with CF gave their opinions on issues impacting transition from their perspective as well as their perception of patient and parent concerns. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis.


A total of 26 PTs completed the survey. A majority, 61.5%, reported that there was a transition program at their facility, with 42.3% involving physical therapy. Common themes for patients and parents included feeling uncertain about: knowledge of the adult physician, acquiring pulmonary infections in the adult setting, and pace of the adult clinic. Physical therapists were concerned about adherence with airway clearance and exercise following transfer to the adult clinic.


The role of PT in transition programs is quite varied. Physical therapists should address common concerns of their patients and families to improve the transition process and possibly impact adherence to the PT plan of care.


cystic fibrosis; physical therapy; transition of care

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