As the number of western Colorado residents testing positive for COVID-19 increases and those recovering from the novel virus, Family Health West saw the need for specialized care addressing lingering effects of COVID-19.
While most patients recover completely within a few weeks, some patients, even those who had mild cases of the virus, experience symptoms long after their initial recovery. Fatigue, heart palpitations, changes in lung function, muscle weakness, memory loss, concentration, brain fog, and even depression and anxiety are among the long list of lingering effects some COVID-19 survivors experience.
Dr. Ellen W. Price, DO at Family Health West, knows that rehabilitation is necessary with any type of debilitating illness. While we continue to discover lingering effects of the COVID-19 virus, particularly regarding the lasting consequences of the disease and long-term outcomes, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial impairments can be anticipated.
“If not addressed early, these problems can persist for months or years,” said Dr. Price. “It’s crucial to be treated in a multidisciplinary fashion to get patients back on track.”
Post-COVID Recovery and Rehabiliation Requires Much More than a Blanket Solution
The Family Health West Post-COVID Recovery program addresses a wide range of deficits caused by COVID-19, among various groups of patients. For some, recovery could mean overcoming post-intensive care syndrome following a prolonged inpatient hospitalization or illness at home. This can look like deconditioning from being bed-bound, myopathy, and even PTSD from a near-death experience.
“Deconditioned state is an issue that occurs when someone is bed-bound for a week or so,” said Dr. Price. “It can take weeks to recover muscle strength and electrolyte imbalance.”
Deconditioning also occurs in many of the young COVID survivors in Mesa County who experienced minimal illness. The Mount Sinai Health System in New York City reports that the majority of patients they’ve treated for lasting symptoms are between 20 and 40 years old, they’re most often women and have no known underlying health conditions.
Patients who were previously high functioning can have problems with cognitive delay, exercise tolerance, and fatigue. They can feel confused and have difficulty planning. Some of these problems can be improved with speech therapy and counseling to learn what the deficits are and how to isolate and treat each issue, others can be mitigated by an exercise training program.
Patients who recovered from COVID-19 may notice they’re not as physically strong as they were before. Some people experience weakness in the lower legs, weakness in hands or fingers, which makes it difficult to complete normal tasks like showering, getting dressed or walking.
Along with physical changes following recovery from COVID, individuals may also experience cognitive impairments. Cognitive changes may seem unrecognizable at first but can pose risks if not addressed. If patients have recovered physically but have slowed cognitive reactions simple tasks like driving or walking can become dangerous.
Family Health West Starts the Post-COVID Recovery Program Consisitng of a Team of Specialists dedicated to creating solutions for patients experiencing lingering symptoms of the novel virus.
Family Health West provides interventions with a thorough assessment and individualized treatment plan that will help each patient maximize their function and quality of life. Careful consideration of the rehabilitation and the environment in which it is performed, at-home telehealth or outpatient care, will ensure that all patients recover as completely as possible.
“Our team approach to COVID-19 recovery provides you with resources and guidance to address all aspects of your health,” said Bill Cummins, Associate Vice President of Business Development and Rehabilitation.
Family Health West’s Post-COVID Recovery Team gives patients access to specialized physicians in neurology, physiatry, and pain management with hopes of better recovery outcomes.
“This means you shouldn’t ignore any physical or cognitive changes,” said Cummins.
Patients who receive a post-COVID assessment will have access to:
- Individualized care plans involving an interdisciplinary team
- Comprehensive rehabilitation services including respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, and exercise physiologists
- A team of experts at your service also include pain specialists, neurologists, psychologists, and physiatrists
Numbers have spiked in Mesa County making it one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the state. The surge has led to more than 3,600 cases and nearly half of those occurred in the last two weeks. If you or someone you love is one of the thousands affected by COVID-19 consider scheduling a post-COVID assessment. Schedule an assessment online, or call (970) 200-1511.