Rehabilitation in Long-COVID

Before 2020, the term ‘Long-COVID’ did not exist. Now it is a term that unfortunately is getting more and more common.

What Is Long-COVID?

People who have been in acute hospital with COVID are coming out with a range of problems that require rehab, and there is now new evidence of need among people who were never admitted to hospital, recovering from what is being called Long COVID. 

At present, there is little research about what Long-COVID is and a lot of information coming forward is from those suffering with it (anecdotal evidence) .

In the UK, the Covid-19 Symptom Study app, which collects symptom information from nearly four million users, says their data show that one in 10 people with covid-19 are sick for three weeks or more.  The team said, “Most health sources suggest that people will recover within two weeks or so. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that this isn’t the case for everyone infected with coronavirus.”

The exact number of people experiencing Long COVID symptoms is unclear. Research into the prevalence of the illness is ongoing, but there are currently an estimated 60,000 people in the UK thought to be experiencing Long COVID, although this is likely to be higher and will grow as coronavirus infection rates rise.

Evidence shows that many of those with Long-COVID are presenting with some of the following health problems:
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tiredness /fatigue
  • Reduced muscle function
  • Joint pain
  • Impaired ability to perform everyday tasks
  • Mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression
  • Body pain
  • High temperatures
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations

In December 2020, NICE, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) have published a guideline on the management of the long-term effects of COVID-19

The guideline makes recommendations in a number of other areas including rehabilitation.

Physiotherapy is vital to the rehabilitation process. We can:
  • Assess the individual problems you are presenting with whether it be at home, when your outdoors or at work
  • Formulate a personalised treatment plan
  • Aid recovery with fatigue management / breathlessness management / breathing dysfunction management / management of any chest secretions / increasing muscle power and function in an individualised way
  • Anxiety management
  • Find ways to increase your function and daily activities.

Resources:

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2815

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/post-covid-syndrome-long-covid/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html

https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-rcgp-and-sign-publish-guideline-on-managing-the-long-term-effects-of-covid-19

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