Physiotherapy for people with long-distance COVID-19?
And you thought we were only making muscles, bones and joints! Let me explain. It’s new ground for everyone. But I hope I make sense at the end of this. Let’s start with a few definitions:
What is “Long COVID?” “
This has been preliminarily defined as the presence of signs and symptoms that develop as a result of COVID-19 and that continue for 12 weeks or more. Many people living with the disease were previously fit and healthy. One in ten cases will show symptoms for a period of 12 weeks or more. The most common lasting symptoms are: shortness of breath; Exacerbation of post-exercise symptoms (PESE); extreme exhaustion (fatigue); Heart palpitations; chest pain / tightness; brain fog; and dizziness.
What is rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation is defined as a set of interventions aimed at optimizing functioning in daily activities, helping individuals to recover or adapt, achieve their full potential and enable them to participate in education, work, leisure and meaningful roles in life. Phew! It’s a bite.
So, as wine lovers say, it’s the perfect match. Let us unite the two definitions and concepts together.
What is a COVID-19 recovery and rehabilitation program?
There are four main areas of interest for a physiotherapist-guided COVID-19 recovery and rehabilitation program. These areas of interest address some of the main long-term signs and symptoms of COVID – shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, general exhaustion, and fatigue. Physiotherapists have the skills and knowledge to deal with it. We can help you formulate a plan for:
• Respiratory problems;
• Fatigue and exacerbation of post-exercise symptoms (PESE);
• 4 P: Prioritize, Plan, Rhythm, Pleasure.
General training and support
Safe and effective rehabilitation is a fundamental part of recovery from illness, injury or illness. It must be adapted to the person, depending on their symptoms. With current research and the information currently available, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that Long COVID Rehab include educating people about resuming daily activities in a conservative manner. An appropriate pace that is safe and manageable for energy levels. The effort should not be pushed to the point of fatigue or worsening of symptoms. This is where physios shine. Long-haul COVID patients need us in their corner.
Now let’s move on to definitions. I like to keep it real and relevant to the readers. How did we start this at Spine and Sports? Well, we had our first long-haul COVID-19 patient several months ago. The very next day, our professional association sent members information and guidelines regarding the emerging post-COVID-19 approach and physiotherapy. The timing seemed perfect. We were careful.
Within a week, more information was sent. Obviously, a collaboration of medical minds had been happening for some time! No more emails. More guidelines. Basically, letting our profession know that we can step in and help. It is certainly part of our scope of practice. The more we read, the more we realized that we were perfectly suited for this moment. Our team of six physiotherapists got together and looked at the literature and how we could help. We quickly realized that it was a mix of cardio-respiratory physiotherapy, graduated fitness programs, and concussion-like rehabilitation (stimulation and planning strategies that involve not overloading the brain / body. /spirit).
In addition, our team recognized the importance of collaborating with other healthcare professionals as various tests can be performed to find the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, palpation. heart attacks, brain fog and more.
In summary, the ultimate goal of a physiotherapist is to be able to return the person to their best state of health. COVID-19 Rehab has our attention. We need to get the word out. Stay tuned for more on this. In 500 words or less, I’ll be covering breathing exercises for long-haul COVID-19 soon, followed by WEIGH and 4P’s. Until we meet again….
Cheryl Witter is a physiotherapist and owner of Spine and Sports North End Physical Therapy and Massage Therapy