Rehabilitation helps COVID-19 patients reach recovery goals

Rehabilitation helps COVID-19 patients reach recovery goals

About 10-15 percent of COVID-19 infections become severe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). People who experience severe illness may require hospitalization and can suffer lingering symptoms that last for several weeks or months. Most common long-term symptoms reported include fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, and confusion. Although researchers are not sure why some people recover more easily from COVID-19 while others do not, there is hope in rehabilitation.

After severe COVID-19, many people have a variety of problems with functioning normally and doing activities of daily living (ADLs). Basic ADLs include the independent ability to change positions and walk, perform personal care and grooming, prepare meals and/or eat meals, control bladder and bowel functions, and travel to and use the toilet. The inability to perform ADLs and other activities may be due to lingering symptoms of the infection and/or conditions acquired while hospitalized.

Hospitalization, especially in an intensive care unit, can take a toll on the body and weaken muscles. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, weakness after an ICU stay occurs in 33 percent of all patients on ventilators, 50 percent of all patients admitted with severe infection, known as sepsis; and up to 50 percent of patients who stay in ICU for at least a week. Additionally, 30-80 percent of patients experience cognitive problems after leaving ICU.

Options for help

After a hospital stay, a rehabilitation program can help patients regain lost function and learn how to effectively use their capabilities. Physical therapy helps to increase mobility through exercises, stretching techniques and education. Occupational therapy helps patients learn how to perform daily activities by addressing several areas including chronic condition management, cognitive issues, environment, mobility, safety and wellness. Finally, speech therapy helps improve communication and/or swallowing problems.

Rehabilitation can happen in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. However, the frequency of therapy visits and time spent in therapy is usually much higher for inpatient rehab than for outpatient rehabilitation. For example, inpatient therapy usually occurs 5 times a week for 1 ½ to 3 hours. Outpatient therapy usually is two to three times per week for 1 to 1 ½ hour a day. Studies have shown that with early intensive therapy, rehab patients recover faster. Inpatient rehabilitation also comes with the advantage of 24/7 nursing care and access to a physician. For example, nursing assistants help with patients’ personal care and dressing as well as transporting them to their therapy appointments. With outpatient rehab, the patient will have to handle details such as pain management, wound care, medication management, transportation to therapy, dressing and personal care on their own.

Without rehabilitation, many COVID-19 patients will continue to have weakness, mobility issues and/or cognitive impairment for a long time, and perhaps permanently. Therefore, they must find a program that will support their recovery goals. Rehab First is a highly specialized program dedicated to comprehensive short-term rehabilitation with a focus on comfort, support and results. We offer an individualized approach to patient care with one-on-one therapy. Our dedicated team of professionals works seamlessly to reduce pain and maximize function in a comfortable home-like environment.  To learn more about Rehab First, call 877-707-2280.