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Why does one require COVID Rehab?

Dr Prof Jayalakshmi TK

MBBS; MD; Consultant (Pulmonology)

4 min read

Have U ever pondered the after-effects of COVID-19? What happens to the patient once they get discharged from hospital? After spending days & months in isolation, are they the same? Can they carry out their day-to-day tasks normally? Can they mingle with others easily? Or, can something bother them more?

The psychological fear, poor physical fitness, prolonged weakness, side-effects of medication, and social stigma can make the matters worse for the recovered COVID patients.

Here comes the need for ‘COVID Rehabilitation’. COVID Rehab programs are planned to support and empower the patients post recovery stage. It includes a set of measures carried out to optimize the functioning of patient for the coming months and years.

Prolonged effects of COVID-19

Most patients don’t have any lingering effects of COVID-19. Patients with mild illnesses often get recovered soon. Only a minute percentage of people undergo lingering effects such as loss of smell, loss of taste, muscle pains, body pains, hairfall and weakness. Sometimes, as the result of weakened immunity and steroids, few patients develop infections in urinary tract. Other common prolonged effects include night sweats and high fever.

Of all, the sudden increase in body temperature during post-recovery stage mostly leads to re-admission at the hospital.

What happens to the patient once they get discharged from a hospital? The psychological fear, poor physical fitness, side-effects of medication and social stigma can make matters worse for COVID patients post recovery.

How long does the post COVID effects last?

Most patients recover in a period of 6 weeks. However, patients falling in the categories below take a longer time—about 6 months—for complete recovery. These have the higher need to undergo COVID Rehab.

  1. Patients with pulmonary fibrosis: It is seen that lung problems in COVID patients take a longer time to get cured. As such, these need a prolonged care by the health experts. They often reapproach the doctor with lung problems.
  2. Patients admitted in ICU for a long time: Patients staying in ICU for many days need to undergo COVID Rehab. Patients often tend to feel depressed and anxious without the presence of relatives around during isolation in ICU. These patients often need to be the part of COVID Rehab.
  3. Patients put on ventilator: Crucially ill patients are provided with mechanical ventilators to push air into the lungs. These patients have chances of facing ongoing breathing problems even in future. These patients should be the part of COVID Rehab as it is likely that they need more counselling and assurance from experts.
  4. Patients with blood clot: Blood clots are a major problem in severe COVID-19 patients. While, clotting is normally a good thing, clots in brain, heart, lungs and hands make the case critical. In some cases, it leads to gangrene. These patients require an exclusive supervision.

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Importance of COVID Rehabilitation

Patients often undergo a phycological trauma once they are attacked by COVID. Weakness is one of the major side-effects. The loss of strength in muscles takes a toll on patient’s mindset.

COVID Rehabilitation treats 4 major aspects of post recovery stage.

  1. Psychological aspect: These patients are treated through psychotherapy. It is a talk therapy that helps people with variety of emotional and mental troubles.
  2. Physical aspect: These are treated via physiotherapy. The trained experts guide the patients about movement and exercise to enable better mobilization. This helps people affected by illness, disability, and injury.
  3. Nutritional aspect: Guidelines are laid with respect to what exactly a patient can eat. Often, a healthy diet is recommended for a long-term period.
  4. Medication aspect: COVID Rehab programs suggest the medication for a patient depending on the type of illness they had faced during COVID.
How long should U undergo the rehab program?

The duration of ‘Rehab program’ depends on the type of illness one had. Mild illness, often, does not require rehab as it can be solved via counselling. Regular counselling for about 1-2 months is sufficient in those cases.

Others who undergo lung damage, ICU admissions will need to take up rehab for about 6-12months.

The intensity of the rehab program is another important aspect a patient should consider—whether it is twice or twice a week and so on.

What does COVID rehab program consist of?

The COVID Rehab program mainly consists of 3 major treatment practices.

  1. Providing mental strength: Here, a psychotherapist counsels the patient. Often, these sessions are conducted once or twice a week depending on the patient’s requirement.
  2. Suggesting right nutrition: Here, a dietician investigates the nourishment of the patient to suggest appropriate diet.
  3. Evaluating medically: Here, a combination of different health experts including pulmonologist, neurologist and cardiologist evaluate the medical health of patients after taking some physical tests. CT scans, X-ray and lung function tests are performed. Depending on the results, the patient undergoes physiotherapy for muscle training, and endurance. Aerobic trainings are also given to improve the physical capacity of the patient.

It is to be noted that caring for URself post COVID is very important to stay fit long-term. It is advisable to attend ‘COVID Rehab’ if U have ever felt any cognitive or physical impairment. The experts at the Rehab maintain a frequent communication to keep U assured.