Are you recovering from COVID-19?

Your body has been through an ordeal and it’s bound to take time to get back to what you were!

But do not worry. There is always a hope, in this process, to facilitate your recovery!

And this is what exactly I am going to share with you today…that how will you recover faster and better post COVID-19?

So, here we go…

COVID-19 is a disease caused by corona virus as you all know it.

So how does it spread/transmit?

What happens once virus enters inside the body?

Also, the virus when enters the body causes sore throat, fever as a result of infection process.

Do you know how does your body fight against it?

Immune system of the body fights against this virus and with a weak immune system the body is taxed and there is a build of fluid and protein cells leading to pneumonia and respiratory distress (ARDS). This is when the need of ventilator arises.

Depending on the severity of symptoms COVID-19 patients are grouped as:

Patients recovered from COVID-19 may present with problems in different body systems as below:

  1. Respiratory system:
    • Dysfunctional breathing pattern.
    • Weakness of respiratory muscles.
  1. Cardiac system:
    • Reduced exercise capacity and endurance (stamina)
  1. Musculoskeletal system:
    • Restriction of joint mobility.
    • Reduced muscle flexibility and strength.
    • Fatigue and loss of lean body mass.

Also there affection of psychological system leading to stress and anxiety.

And let me tell you that recovery time varies from person to person and is dependent on the other associated diseases as well.

Here is what we, as physiotherapists plan for early recovery post COVID-19..

Goals for recovery and rehabilitation:

Note: An individual should be assessed for exercise capacity and oxygenation response during regular physical activity and then trained accordingly by a physiotherapist.

HOW TO START BACK?

  • During your hospitalization, you will likely be moving around less than normal. This may leave you feeling weak and more unsteady on your feet. This is normal due to loss of muscle that occurs with prolonged bed rest or sitting.
  • It is important to start to rebuild those muscles as soon as possible and become more active as this will help you recover both physically and mentally.
  • Comply with the exercise program prescribed by your physiotherapist which may begin with exercises at bed level, in sitting, and gradually progressed to variety of exercises in standing targeting balance, mobility and endurance.
  • Your physiotherapist will also prescribe breathing exercises that will assist with improving your lung capacity after this type of respiratory illness.
  • Use rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale to monitor your exertion levels during different activities throughout the the day including your exercise sessions. You should keep your (RPE) in the range of 1 to 3 during your recovery. If you are rating the activity in the higher ranges, it means your body is not ready for that activity. Take planned rests throughout the activity and day.
Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale
  • Conserve energy. Energy conservation means finding the easiest way to do an everyday task, so you have some energy left over to do the other things you would like to do. Follow 4 P’s.
4 P’s of energy conservation
  • Start with light activity – examples include getting up to go to the bathroom versus a bedside commode, walking to make a cup of tea/coffee or even just standing up from a seated position.
  • Keep a walking log or activity diary to track the number or times and estimated distance you are able to walk each day.

WALKING LOG – track your progress

Points to remember during recovery from COVID-19:

  1. Recovering from a diagnosis of COVID-19 and/or acute respiratory distress will be slow and your ability to return to everyday tasks will be gradual.
  2. Take frequent rest breaks even if you do not feel short of breath.
  3. Positions to relieve breathlessness such as sitting and leaning forward, resting your hands on your knees, standing and leaning forward on a counter top or a sturdy piece of furniture can be used.
  1. Lying on your stomach (prone) may allow you to breathe more easily/expand your lungs. Also, this position helps with decreasing the efforts needed to breathe and help with air entry in lungs (Note: attempt this position taking into account your comfort and if not sure, consult your physiotherapist).
  1. Do follow energy conservation techniques mentioned above.
  2. Maintain good nutrition and hydration during your illness and recovery. Your body is requiring more calories to breathe and do the physical work of recovery, so make sure you are eating and drinking regularly, even if you have a low appetite.
  1. Gradually increase daily conditioning exercises and a walking program.
    • Use the Rate of Exertion (RPE) scale to help guide how hard you are working. Initial goal is to work in the 0-3 range. Keep taking short rest breaks.

 So, after retraining and rehabilitating, my patients have reported:-

  1. Increment in time and distance of walking as daily activity.
  2. Increased range of movements of limbs.
  3. Increased muscle strength.
  4. Reduction in symptoms i.e. breathlessness and cough.

– all with the varying recovering time.

So, based on my experience in treating COVID-19 recovering patients, I would like to tell you all – don’t feel worried or discouraged if it takes a while to get your energy and fitness back. It is important to understand that recovery time is different for each patient. And if you need any help in your recovery we are here for you!

Authored by-
Dr Krina Chheda 
Masters in Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapy
Consultant Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapist

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