Disclaimer: The content of this article is only up-to-date as of the date it was published. Please consult the CDC for current information on COVID-19.
COVID-19 has forever altered the medical world, and one place we’re now seeing changes is in the physical rehabilitation space. Patients who experience symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath as a result of battling the virus may be seeking your services for recuperation. And, per their recent update, the CDC now recommends physical and occupational therapy in the treatment of long COVID symptoms.
Assessing for PASC a.k.a Long COVID
When it comes to COVID, we are still learning. Countless manhours are being invested into the research and understanding of this virus. A new front of research has delved into the long-term ailments of those who contracted and recovered from COVID-19.
Though these specifications are subject to change as new information reveals itself, the CDC has begun defining their guidelines for long COVID. Post-Acute Sequalance of COVID-19 (PASC), is the official term assigned to “long COVID”. Symptoms include dyspnea, fatigue, post-exertional malaise and/or poor endurance, and more (find a full and up-to-date list on the CDC website).
When it comes to PASC, the CDC recommends a holistic approach that doesn’t rely solely on lab testing and standard physical exam. The CDC imparts that the patient history and validating the effects of symptoms on daily life are key to developing a successful treatment plan, “Where clinically indicated, symptom management and a comprehensive rehabilitation plan can be initiated simultaneously with laboratory testing for most patients.”
Managing Long Covid with Rehab Therapy
With the list of symptoms Covid long haulers report and the goal to optimize function and regain quality of life, physical rehab therapists are presented with an excellent opportunity to make a difference. In fact, many clinics are beginning to implement programs for patients recovering from COVID.
In an interview with the University of Michigan Health, Sean Smith M.D., an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine stated, “Michigan Medicine has considerably increased acute care rehabilitation capacity. This means patients are receiving more physical and occupational therapy than usual, and physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation are seeing a large number of patients, which helps make the transition to outpatient rehabilitation care seamless.” He continues to stress the importance of rehabilitation therapy for these patients by saying, “Despite these efforts, capacity for inpatient rehabilitation must increase, as there are more patients now who are unable to physically or cognitively discharge home due to the impairments from COVID-19.”
According to a recent study, one-third of COVID recovered patients, regardless of the severity of their illness, report lingering symptoms for an average of six months after the onset of the infection – highlighting the need for effective treatment methods for improved quality of life for long haulers.
Additionally, since the treatment of PASC, relies heavily on the relationship between physicians and therapists, long Covid treatment programs offer an opportunity for increased referrals. Not only does it seem that community health is able to benefit from long hauler treatment, but therapy organizations and clinics may be able to return to pre-pandemic staffing levels and regain financial stability to continue to provide care.
Could a COVID rehabilitation program be right for your organization? Built to streamline workflows and give you the tools needed for growth, A2C Medical is dedicated to helping physical, occupational, and speech therapists create a more effective organization. Schedule a demo to see our specialized EMR in action today.