The government, the media and the general public are currently very focused on how to manage the acute stages of the disease but what about afterwards, the rehabilitation phase?
In a study in Seattle in March 2020, they have reported that 25% of people hospitalised were ventilated. The reality is that if you are ventilated for a few days, a week or several weeks then you are going to need an immense amount of rehab to get back to normal life. The wasting of your muscles including those that power your rib cage and lungs will be heavily affected. Not to mention the damage to the lungs themselves. Prolonged hospilisation will also cause global muscle wastage. Fatigue is a very common symptom of the Covid-19 infection and post-viral fatigue is the extended period of feeling unwell afterwards. All this combined will require a long, progressive program of rehabilitation to build up exercise tolerance, strength, flexibility, balance and cardiovascular fitness to get back to basic functional levels. And another very important factor to consider will be the patient’s mental status post this traumatic experience. This will all require expertise to be able to provide a tailor-made programme for each individual to follow to meet their own goals.
How can Physiotherapy help Covid 19 Coronavirus patients?
Physiotherapists are working with Covid-19 patients at every step of their journey. Part of the initial work includes the clearance of a patients lungs so that they could breathe easier or to help with the ventilation weaning and positioning. Our focus is very much on getting people mobile and up as fast as possible due to the rapid deterioration of truly immobilised individuals (Moses 2020). At the beginning just sitting is challenging for these patients never mind walking or stairs or going back to work.
The reality is the NHS will be over stretched to provide the rehabilitation needs these patients require. The CSP are pushing for the right treatment pathways to be established for these patients. This being said Physiotherapists like ourselves working in private practice will be a major cornerstone in the treatment of Covid-19 patients going forwards.
What about the non-Covid 19 Coronavirus Physiotherapy needs?
There have been many Physiotherapy and rehabilitation needs that have been postponed. These individuals needs haven’t gone away and in fact, may have been liklely exacerbated by this pandemic. This alone is going to create a massive demand on the system too once this can re-commence. However, we at Silver Physio are here to help – preparing necessary PPE for when we will be able to visit you at home again.