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Do patients recovering from COVID-19 benefit from rehabilitation?

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Patients who suffered from acute COVID-19 may experience symptoms that require the support of rehabilitation services.

The rapid emergence of COVID-19 was experienced worldwide. Healthcare facilities were caring for large volumes of patients during the onset of the virus while lacking prior knowledge of its symptoms. The virus has caused several clinical ailments, including respiratory failure, excessive immunological response, clotting disorders, renal failure, and myocarditis, among others.

Recovery from the physical repercussions of contracting the virus, such as respiratory conditions and fatigue can require further support through rehabilitation. During the onset of the virus, medical services responded by relying on data that was not developed particularly from COVID-19 patients but was directly related to their concerns. Some treatments have proven to be more successful than predicted over time, such as laying down patients prone to breathing issues and employing continuous positive airway pressure, while existing knowledge has been put to good use. Rehabilitation has surfaced as an integral programme as well in helping patients transition from covid related symptoms and recuperate to resume their normal lives.

According to a study published in the Clinical Medicine Journal, like medical treatments, rehabilitation is a diagnostic-led, effective problem-solving process that is supported by evidence. The primary step is the diagnosis, which detects the causes and core medical issues of a patient, to determine treatment. Through a multidisciplinary and holistic process, patients are tested and diagnosed to distinguish any preexisting conditions from symptoms that are a result of the virus. Physiotherapists and mental health specialists are also a part of the treatment process to provide appropriate assessments during the road towards recovery.

The virus can impact the heart and circulatory system, the brain directly through encephalitis, and indirectly in the instance of secondary to hypoxia or vascular thrombosis, the kidney and renal function, blood clotting, and the gastrointestinal tract, in addition to the respiratory system. Recovery through rehabilitation is helping patients recover and address arising medical issues, and although COVID-19 has challenged healthcare in its entirety, including rehabilitation, it is precipitating change and driving multidisciplinary approaches.

In Early experiences of rehabilitation for individuals post-COVID to improve fatigue, breathlessness exercise capacity and cognition – A cohort study, published in Chronic Respiratory Disease Journal, Sage Journals, 30 individuals completed a COVID-19 rehabilitation programme. Eighty-seven per cent were admitted for the duration of 10 to 14 days, and 14 per cent required mechanical ventilation in an Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) setting. Thirteen percent of the patients had preexisting respiratory conditions such as asthma. Thirty patients completed at least eight sessions of rehabilitation, with two dropping out due to personal reasons.

When compared to healthy controls, baseline ratings revealed lower exercise capacity and health-related quality of life, but generally intact anxiety, depression, and cognition. The study concludes on a note which demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes and how it supports patients who suffer from long- COVID symptoms. The findings further touch on individualised and personalised care for patients driving positive outcomes.                                                                                                                                                          

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