Probably no one will argue that rehabilitation provides a positive health outcome on patients with severe COVID-19. However, the key matter is to identify what rehabilitation interventions will benefit each patient?
As each patient’s needs are different, a standard approach cannot be suitable for all patients. Rehabilitation involves a multidisciplinary team performing a diagnosis process and an intervention on four levels: exercise, a range of tailored medical interventions, psychosocial support, and education particularly about self-management and daily habits (including nutrition).
COVID-19 patients present many clinical affectations, including respiratory failure, blood clotting disorders and the gastrointestinal tract, renal failure, and myocarditis. The virus can also affect the brain directly (encephalitis) and indirectly (eg vascular thrombosis); and the virus has also been found in semen.
The whole range of individual conditions arising after COVID-19 and their relative frequency is not yet known. Considering that some conditions are often associated with age, this will have an influence on rehabilitation needs as well as rehabilitation outcomes.
Factors to consider in the rehabilitation plan after COVID-19 include:
- Which symptoms are specific in the patient?
- Direct trauma
- Injuries to other organs and systems
- Are there specific late or rare complications to be considered?
Therapists are instrumental in the rehabilitation of patients as they transition from the acute to the post-acute phase, supported through a multidisciplinary team that will be key to this.
For instance, exercise that uses muscles and increases demand upon the cardio-respiratory system will be important. It benefits not simply general fitness; it is a core component of all cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and should be encouraged from the outset.
In rehabilitation jargon, it is referred to as ‘task-specific training’ and applies in all conditions. Yet it will be particularly relevant to COVID-19 patients with neurological and musculoskeletal damage.
Therefore, accompanying patients and families to manage themselves through this post COVID-19 uncertainty will be a particularly important aspect of rehabilitation to be received at HOPE 360 Health Center.