Long COVID is an officially recognised condition that
- Cannot be diagnosed until after 3 months from testing positive to COVID-19.
- For at least 2 months cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.
- Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction, among others which have an impact on everyday functioning. (www.racgp.org.au)
With an estimated 5% of COVID patients going on to develop Long COVID; the number of people experiencing ongoing problems is increasing. Also there is absolutely no correlation between the severity experienced of the acute COVID-19 infection and the likelihood of going on to develop long term symptoms(www.longcovid.physio).
Part of the treatment for Long COVID is Physiotherapy……but what does that look like for the patient?
1. We start with an assessment of your previous injuries, your current capacity and what lifestyle you are aiming to return to.
2. We then perform any hands on treatment that is needed so that good movement with less pain is achieved. Also to solve the problems of any previous or nagging injuries. We may even recommend a massage for relaxation or easing sore muscles.
3. Exercise. The best results in the clinic have come from patients participating in 1-2 x week Physio Exercise. You have your own specific exercise program developed exactly for your specific needs focusing on
· Pacing; Pacing is a strategy and rehabilitation approach that balances rest and activities in daily life. We can dial up or down your exercise at any point in time so that your overall daily physical challenge is even – doing too much just because you feel good leads to a big crash and prolongs the cycle of fatigue!
· Taking into account previous injuries; As physios we are experts at injury rehabilitation. We have a Long COVID patient whose exercise program integrates their knee and ankle arthritis rehab. And another patient whose shoulder rotator cuff injury is concurrently being addressed!
· Motivation; When you are fatigued and sore, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. People who commit and book into classes are more motivated to develop good habits and as the Physio directs the exercises and ensured you have good technique, you don’t even have to worry about making mistakes with the brain fog.
Exercise is the key to working through Long COVID.
Once we understand how you use your body to live the life you enjoy the most, use hands on physio to relieve aches & pains; consistent exercise at an intensity that challenges but does not overload you is how you work with your Physio to find your way out of Long COVID.