In addition to immediate health concerns, COVID-19 brought a subsequent wave of lingering symptoms many survivors face. Termed “Long COVID” or “Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection” (PASC), this phenomenon has presented numerous medical challenges. At the Breakthru Physical Therapy + Fitness office in Mount Laurel, near Maple Shade, NJ, our expert physical therapists are aiding in the recovery process for “long-haulers” – those experiencing prolonged symptoms.
What is Long COVID?
Long COVID refers to a range of symptoms that can continue for weeks or months after the acute phase of a COVID-19 infection has resolved. Many patients who have recovered from the initial virus infection report experiencing lingering symptoms that vary widely in intensity and type, including:
- Fatigue: This is one of the most commonly reported symptoms.
- Breathlessness: Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath even after minor physical exertion.
- Joint pain: Persistent aches that do not quickly subside.
- Chest pain or tightness: Ongoing discomfort in the chest area.
- Brain fog: Includes difficulties with concentration, memory lapses, and struggling to perform previously easy tasks.
- Loss of taste and smell: Some individuals find that their senses don’t return to average even months after recovering from the acute phase.
- Heart palpitations: An irregular heartbeat or feeling that the heart is racing.
- Headaches: Persistent or recurring headaches.
- Muscle aches: Similar to joint pain, an ongoing discomfort in muscles.
- Mental health problems: Depression, anxiety, and changes in mood.
- Insomnia: Difficulties in falling or staying asleep.
Physical Therapy for Post-COVID Recovery
Here’s how physical therapy is evolving to address the unique needs of post-COVID long-haulers:
- Recognizing the Broad Symptom Spectrum: Long COVID offers a diverse range of symptoms, from fatigue and muscle weakness to joint pain and respiratory issues, requiring a tailored physical therapy approach.
- Prioritizing Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation: One of the primary concerns for many post-COVID patients is diminished lung capacity and cardiovascular issues. A significant concern for patients is reduced lung capacity and cardiovascular problems. Therapists prioritize cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation, enhancing lung function, cardiovascular health, and stamina, aiming for patients’ return to normal activity levels.
- Gentle Graduation in Exercise Intensity: Understanding the profound fatigue that long-haulers experience, therapy exercises increase in intensity gradually and cautiously to avoid exacerbating symptoms.
- Incorporating Breathing Exercises: Breathing exercises, like diaphragmatic and paced breathing, are crucial, benefiting lung function and addressing anxiety.
- Emphasis on Mental Well-Being: The psychological toll of Long COVID, including feelings of anxiety and depression, necessitates an integrated approach, with therapists incorporating mindfulness and coordinating with mental health experts.
- Educating on Energy Conservation: One of the key strategies being taught to long-haulers is energy conservation. Therapists also guide patients on energy conservation techniques, like task pacing and environmental optimization, allowing them to manage daily tasks without increasing fatigue.
- Continual Monitoring and Feedback Loop: Due to the evolving understanding of Long COVID, continuous monitoring, feedback adjustments, and collaboration with healthcare peers are essential to ensure therapy remains aligned with the latest insights.
Start Recovering Today!
While the road to a complete understanding of Long COVID is still unfolding, the foundational principles of physical therapy – individualized care, holistic approach, and patient empowerment – provide comprehensive support to those still suffering. Through adapted techniques and continual learning, physical therapists at Breakthru Physical Therapy + Fitness can aid long-haulers in their journey toward recovery and well-being in Maple Shade, NJ. To schedule a consultation, call 856.227.1440 or visit our webpage.