Covid-19 survivors encouraged to undergo physiotherapy rehab

Patients of severe Covid-19 effects, including respiratory difficulties are encouraged to undertake physiotherapy exercises as soon as they are discharged to ensure solid recuperation. This is according to Jolie Indatwa, a physiotherapist at at Physique Clinic .

She said most patients who have been hospitalised incur physical fatigue from the long stay in bed with limited or no change of position, this is because patients with severe and critical Covid-19 are potentially very unstable and have low exercise tolerance.

Therefore, patients recovering from a critical care and hospital stay should have a follow up examination at two or three months to further assess functional and rehabilitative needs, indicated Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC)’s clinical Covid-19 management guidelines.

According to the guidelines, recovering from severe respiratory illness and the secondary effects from intensive care treatments have an impact on patients’ rehabilitation.

During the out-patient follow-up, RBC says, physiotherapists conduct chest and respiratory integrity testing, cardio-pulmonary function testing, physical activity as well as performance levels.

“Residual respiratory defects have been found in half of the patients who recovered from SARS-Cov-2 three months after hospital discharge, while others had impaired exercise capacity,” the guidelines state.

It has been shown that a six-week pulmonary rehabilitation course improved the function, quality of life and anxiety in elderly patients recovering from Covid19, says RBC.

It adds that also a six-week exercise training program was effective in improving both the cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness in patients recovering from SARS.

Most of the time, signs that one needs physiotherapy rehabilitation are evident, said Indatwa “they have heavy breathing and are easily tired while walking or performing any other physical activity.”

Physiotherapists should be involved in the follow up of discharged patients to tailor the rehabilitation, said the guidelines, However, mobilization and exercise prescription should involve careful consideration of patient’s state.

Indatwa said that those who were able to perform some physical exercises during the home based care recovery period are less likely to need physiotherapy follow-up.