Many may find it difficult to think of anything but the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years, especially if you have contracted the disease. While there is still research being conducted on its long-term effects, there is also research showing that physical therapy may be able to assist with the recovery from pulmonary infections such as COVID-19. Here, our Manotick physiotherapists explain how physiotherapy may be able to help you.
The virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is associated with symptoms ranging in seriousness from non-existent to very severe.
Since this disease is very new, there are still only early studies being conducted about the efficacy of rehabilitation for COVID-19. However, research is beginning to appear suggesting that physiotherapy may be effective at aiding in long-term recovery for clients who have suffered from pulmonary diseases that have affected both their mental and physical health such as COVID-19.
While you may not commonly associate physiotherapists with your lung health, our breathing processes are governed like muscle groups just like any other motion or process.
While the majority of the documented physical therapy treatments for this illness are exercises and therapies for breathing specialists to address lng health, our Manotick physiotherapists can support your recovery as well. We can do this through careful fitness p[planning and the prescription of light and safe exercises to help slowly return your physical fitness and help you go about your day-to-day life again.
How Does COVID-19 Affect My Lungs?
COVID-19 is able to affect an infected person's body in a number of different ways. 81% of individuals who catch the disease express mild or moderate symptoms affecting their breathing like reduced lung capacity and dry coughing, as well as fatigue and fever. These symptoms generally can clear up without hospitalization or treatment being required. 14% develop severe versions of these symptoms which can last anywhere from weeks to months.
Some individuals who contract COVID-19 also go on to express what is referred to as "long COVID," where they continue to express some symptoms and feel the effects of the disease for much longer than is normal.
For patients who have suffered from some of the more severe symptoms associated with this disease or who are living with the effects of "long COVID," rehabilitation may be able to help them restore their physical health, fitness lung capacity and function in their day-to-day lives once the symptoms have dissipated and they start recovery.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the aftereffects of COVID-19 can include:
- lung damage
- anxiety, depression, or trauma
- muscle or joint pain
- chronic fatigue
- conditions that affect the blood vessels, such as clotting
- cognitive impairments that affect memory or concentration
- heart damage or inflammation, such as myocarditis or pericarditis
- lasting effects from complications, such as heart attacks, stroke, or pulmonary embolism
How Can Treatment at a Physiotherapy Clinic Help?
Since information about effective rehabilitation for patients who have suffered from COVID-19 is slowly trickling in, our physical therapists are constantly changing nd developing our approach to reflect the newest and best of these reports. We are able to support you in pacing exercises to meet your needs and respect your abilities. To this end, we prescribe exercises aimed at restoring your lung capacity and cardiovascular health, developing strategies to slowly and safely return you to your normal level of health.
These may include breathing exercises such as deeply inhaling and exhaling while engaging your abdominal muscles, light cardiovascular exercises that you can do around the house such as walking up and down flights of stairs, balance training and some low-intensity resistance training like squats.
The specifics of your treatment will entirely depend on your own unique case. Some patients will be able to conduct exercises in our physiotherapy center, while others may only be able to perform exercises in their homes.
If, because of quarantines and confinement to your house, upi have experienced long periods of inactivity, oyur physical fitness may have declines. It's key for you and your physical therapist to be aware of your fitness level and how it has been influenced by lifestyle changes as well as illness when planning treatments.
What Should I Look Out for When Receiving Physical Rehabilitation for COVID-19?
Patients who are experiencing "long COVID" should be mindful of the fact that many individuals report that exercise can temporarily worsen their symptoms and condition. This condition is called post-exertional malaise (PEM). Our physiotherapists are aware of the dangers this condition poses and will work with you to make sure your treatment is cautious, safe and targeted at your needs and ability.
If you notice that, after exercise, you feel disproportionately worsened symptoms of long COVID, make sure you stop exercising as soon as possible and rest. The most important thing when recovering from COVID-19 is that you pace yourself to avoid injury, side effects and PEM to ensure you can retun to your normal health as quicyl and safely as possible.
If you have been prescribed exercises by your physical therapist and find that they are causing you to experience PEM, let them know right away so you can work together to find a better solution for your rehabilitation.