Rehabilitation post COVID: Treating Long COVID!
Rehabilitation post COVID: Treating Long COVID!
We have been blasted with COVID hysteria for the past few years and it’s not going away.
In clinic we have seen a rise in long COVID symptoms for many people these are very mild and for some they are severe.
What is long COVID!
Post COVID condition or Long COVID is a persistence of new or unexplained symptoms that last for up to 12 weeks after COVID-19 infection.
Long COVID can occur in people who had mild COVID symptoms but have been affected by ongoing symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of long COVID?
Common symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- “Brain fog” or difficulty thinking clearly
- Loss of smell or taste
- Hair loss
- Poor concentration
- Sleep disturbance
- Heart palpitations (racing heartbeat)
- Reduced exercise tolerance
For many people these return to normal over time and they may not even realise they are suffering from long COVID symptoms.
Now let’s get to the point, why am I writing this article?
Over the past 2 years we have been able to gain a first-hand insight into a broad spectrum of the population ranging from elite athletes to the elderly and everything in between.
We have heard accounts of how patients have suffered with fatigue and brain fog or even sleep disturbance and they couldn’t quite put their finger on why they felt the way they did. It has been an interesting insight into the general population and the effects of long COVID. Now not all of these signs and symptoms are long COVID or can be attributed to long COVID, but the amount of people that we have had report “feeling off” has been dramatically higher than ever before. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. But what can we do to address these signs and symptoms, whether they are long COVID or not?
What you we do?
Firstly, if you suspect signs and symptoms of long COVID, I advise that you see a healthcare professional. The first step should be a GP who may run blood tests and can refer you to a specialist if required. I am a big advocated of yearly blood tests anyway so this can be part of your yearly preventative healthcare regime.
Once you’ve seen your healthcare and they have ruled out anything sinister what are the things we can do to help improve these signs and symptoms? Let’s look at this from a holistic approach!
- Sleep – Ensure you are getting adequate sleep, for some this is easier said than done. But this means winding down before bedtime so no screen time and calming your mind. This may mean some mindfulness or meditation, or in the lovely summer months (if you call this a summer) a nice slow walk before bed.
- Hydration – Adequate hydration is essential and in this limiting caffeine intake before bed. Within the hydration bubble, I advise minimising soda drinks with sugar and carbonation and having 2L of water a day. Try not to drink water too close to bed and limit tea intake prior to bed which may can an increase in urination overnight, which can disturb your sleep cycle.
- Nutrition – This is a big one as always, I won’t comment too much here because I always recommend seeing a dietician for individualised advice. I recommend a well-rounded diet limiting sugar, and processed food. This biggest thing we see is over eating so make sure you are portion controlled, looking after your nutrition doesn’t mean you need to be on a diet.
Can Physiotherapy help?
The world physiotherapy organisation has released guidelines and research into safe long COVID rehabilitation
Here are some exerts regarding physical activity.
- Physiotherapists can play an important role in the rehabilitation of people living with Long COVID, to balance activities with rest to optimise recovery, and consider other factors important in symptom management beyond solely physical activity.
- Physical activity of all forms might benefit some people living with Long COVID but could be contraindicated or exacerbate symptoms in others. Using a cautious approach to physical activity will likely support longer-term recovery.
- Physical activity, including exercise, prescription in Long COVID should only be approached with caution and vigilance, ensuring rehabilitation programmes are restorative and do not make an individual’s symptoms worse both during and in the days following.
- Due to the risk of worsening symptoms with overexertion in Long COVID, it is critical that physical activity, including exercise, interventions are applied with caution and careful clinical decision making based on symptoms during and in the days following exertion
For most people they won’t need to undergo specialist rehabilitation with a physiotherapist, but it is important to know that there is help out there and you can seek help for any signs and symptoms you might be experiencing.
Andrew Ilieff - BeFit Training Physio Double Bay
Andrew Ilieff is a physiotherapist based in Double Bay, Sydney. Andrew has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems and sports injuries on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. Andrew specialises in lower back rehab, sports injuries and is a leading authority on Strength and Conditioning for Physiotherapists as the co-author of the University Of Technology Sydney Strength and Conditioning for Physiotherapists and casual academic lecturer. To book a consultation, click the link below.