June 22, 2024


Health know-how

Post-COVID medical treatment becomes specialty | Columnists

In Northeast Pennsylvania, thousands of people are recuperating from COVID-19.

Others will be added to this list in the months ahead.

Many are experiencing physical and emotional effects that can be improved with interventions from rehabilitation experts. This is an emerging specialty in post-acute care and one that is becoming necessary to help citizens recover from the lasting effects of coronavirus.

Across the globe, millions of people have been infected and affected by the COVID-19 virus. Some have had mild illnesses; others have had more significant courses with long-lasting residual problems.

These lingering difficulties extend beyond just respiratory trouble. Many patients suffer fatigue, endurance issues, muscle weakness, reduced joint mobility, gait imbalance, muscle and nerve pain, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and limitations with activities of daily living. All of us know someone in this situation.

Those individuals who required intensive care hospitalizations are more likely to suffer these untoward side effects. Additionally, many endure various psychological issues, too. Depression stemming from social distancing, isolation, quarantine, ICU psychosis, mourning the loss of a loved one, guilt associated with infecting others and other effects are common these days; however, there are other emotional and cognitive illnesses that can arise as well.

Across the country, COVID recovery programs are being established to help patients with their recuperations – Northeast Pennsylvania is no exception.

These programs are increasingly being led by physiatrists, who are physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and cognitive and linguistic therapy as well as physiological services play key roles in this recuperation model.

A patient’s personal care physician, in addition to other physician specialists such as pulmonary, cardiology, infectious diseases, nephrology, neurology and psychiatry, will also be integral in patients’ recuperation depending upon each individual’s unique needs.

Physicians at Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates, in cooperation with staff from Allied Services Integrated Health System are leading dozens of local patients through holistic approaches to post-COVID 19 rehabilitation with the goal of achieving full recoveries from various effects of this virus. We’ve established a center for COVID-19 recuperation and rehabilitation to focus on this emergent issue.

Other programs are developing, too. This is all positive for our region – and very much needed.

Since March, Northeast Rehab physicians have stayed up to date with the latest medical literature and understanding of the coronavirus. We have cared for patients in acute care hospitals, the rehabilitation setting, skilled nursing facilities and in outpatient office settings. The long-term effects of this virus are still not fully understood but our physicians are uniquely qualified to assist with the rehabilitation of it.

To be sure, patients recuperating from coronavirus will benefit greatly from a targeted post-acute care rehabilitation management program. The need is great and our local physician/provider network is working to respond to this growing demand.

As with everything with COVID-19, understanding the lasting health, economic and societal impacts of this dreaded disease is ongoing No issue is more important, though, than ensuring the development and delivery of proper medical interventions to help restore function in those who have been sidelined by this disease.