ReCOVery: The COVID-19 Rehab Program
Have you or someone you know experienced COVID-19? Even after recovering from the illness itself, this medical ordeal has many effects on the body, from extreme fatigue and shortness of breath, to weakness, difficulty with day-to-day activities and more. Many people who have had COVID-19 report that they feel fatigue and other effects of COVID-19 months later. If after having COVID-19 you are having difficulty doing the things that are important to you, such as going for walks, cooking or going to the grocery store, we would love to help you through our ReCOVery program.
What is ReCOVery?
ReCOVery is an evidence-based eight-plus week rehabilitation program developed at Pro Motion Physiotherapy for individuals who have suffered from COVID-19. The program was developed and is provided by physiotherapists based on best-practice recommendations of the World Health Organization, World Physiotherapy, American Thoracic Society, Ontario Physiotherapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, and others, for rehabilitation after COVID-19. The program includes a thorough assessment of multiple body systems, followed by a tailored treatment program in four phases, based on your unique needs, to help you achieve optimal recovery.
Your first session of the ReCOVery program will be an hour-long thorough assessment of multiple body systems to determine what physical challenges you are currently experiencing and, based on that information, how we can best help your recovery. The assessment will begin with a discussion of your medical history and experience with COVID-19, what difficulties you continue to experience, and screening for post-exertional malaise (extreme fatigue after doing physical or cognitive tasks that may last for days) and dysautonomia (a group of conditions that include unusual changes in blood pressure, heart rate, among others). Next, we will review your vitals, breathing, mobility, strength, balance and endurance. The assessment will be adjusted as needed based on your energy levels and the symptoms that you may be experiencing. During the assessment, it is important to us to identify what is important to you and how we can help you.
As healthcare professionals, we want you to feel medically safe to exercise and participate in the ReCOVery program. Therefore, before beginning the program, we will need to know that your physician has medically cleared you to return to physical activity. We will monitor your vitals and symptoms throughout the program.
Based on the information collected during the assessment, your physiotherapist will discuss with you how the ReCOVery program will be structured to best help you recover.
The treatment component of the ReCOVery program has two streams. Stream one is an eight-week rehabilitation program in four phases focused on progressive exercise and education. This stream is for individuals who are feeling weak after having COVID-19 but are not experiencing Post-Exertional Malaise or other complications post-COVID-19. Each individual will progress through the program’s four phases at a different rate depending on their initial abilities, current symptoms, overall health, and other factors. The first phase consists of light activity and exercises to begin improving your breathing, mobility, and strength. The second phase will build on the previous phase by gently increasing the intensity of activities and adding some endurance and balance exercises, as appropriate. The third phase will continue to progress your exercises and shift towards more intense and challenging bouts of activity. The fourth and final phase will add activities incorporating complex movements requiring good balance, coordination, and strength. Throughout the program, your exercises will be designed to improve your ability to do day-to-day activities. In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, you will likely experience that exercise can also improve emotional well-being.
In addition to the exercise component of the program, we will also provide you with educational information on various relevant topics such as the long-lasting effects of COVID-19, a healthy lifestyle for your recovery, how to conserve your energy, how to progressively increase your activities, and others.
The second stream is for individuals experiencing post-exertional malaise, dysautonomia, or other health complications post-COVID-19. This stream will include many components described above for stream one. However, in this stream, the program is longer than eight weeks, adapted each session based on the individual’s current status, and involves a much greater focus on pacing, monitoring symptoms, and functional activity. For example, for some individuals experiencing post-exertional fatigue, we may replace typical exercises with physical activity that is built into daily life, e.g., going up and down the stairs a certain number of times per day, taking a walk, or doing an errand.
Achieving Your Goals
Throughout the ReCOVery program, we will monitor your progress. We will ask you what tasks you find easier and what activities are still challenging. At the end of the program, we will conduct a formal reassessment to highlight, in concrete numbers, how much progress you have made. We will discuss how far you have come and how you have achieved your goals, whether walking for half an hour without a break, playing with your grandkids, or taking care of the cooking and cleaning at home. We will also discuss new goals you may have. Our goals are the same as yours, to assist you in your recovery.
We cannot wait to help you get back to doing the things that are important to you. If you are interested in the ReCOVery program or would like to discuss anything further, please reach out to Bella at Pro Motion Physiotherapy.
We look forward to helping you in your recovery!
Written by Bella Levi Physiotherapist
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