COVID-19 Recovery

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Managing symptoms following COVID 19 infection

Cardio-respiratory physiotherapists are present in the emergency department (ED), the acute wards, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the rehabilitation wards of hospitals. They are involved at every stage of the acute presentation of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms. They help patients of all ages with the identification and management of symptoms in the acute stages and onwards.

In the community and outpatient departments cardio-respiratory physiotherapists are available face to face in a clinic, at home or via telehealth to help those with ongoing symptoms following COVID-19.

Are you experiencing ongoing symptoms following COVID-19? Are you more breathless than usual still or have a persistent cough? Are you feeling more fatigued or weaker than usual? Do you have joint or muscle discomfort and you are you getting less done? A cardio-respiratory physiotherapist can help you manage your recovery and symptoms.

Symptoms

There are many COVID-19 symptoms.

Following COVID-19 infection if you are experiencing any of the below seek a referral to a cardio-respiratory physiotherapist:

  • Feeling more breathless than usual
  • Activities being more effortful than before
  • Limitations to daily life
  • Feeling weaker
  • Getting tired more easily
  • Managing to get less done
  • An ongoing cough
  • Sleep disturbances

    How physio helps

    • Individualised and specialised management of breathing conditions
    • Management of ongoing cough and breathlessness
    • Fatigue management strategies
    • Assessment and management of autonomic dysfunction / Postural Orthostatic Tachycardic Syndrome (POTS)
    • Recognising change and supporting paced return to functional activities including return to work
    • Personalised strengthening programmes designed around symptom management and control, usually with a focus on breathing muscles first
    • Restore fitness levels with a paced and individualised approach
    • Address breathing biomechanics and any breathing dysfunction.
    • Assess lung health and respiratory muscle health
    • Assess dynamic breathing patterns to ensure optimised activity or sporting performance

    What to expect

    If you have been admitted to hospital it is possible you may have seen a cardio-respiratory physiotherapist and been assessed and provided with a series of activities, exercises and breathing exercises to complete at home.

    If these symptoms have continued beyond three months, you may have sought a referral to a cardio-respiratory physiotherapist to manage them.

    If you have not been admitted and have managed at home yet find that you have the symptoms above, ask your doctor to refer you to a physiotherapist in your area who is skilled in treating people with cardio-respiratory issues. Your physio can see you face to face and/or via telehealth and can discuss your needs and put together a management plan just for you. This may include group classes or individualised sessions.

    If you are fit and healthy and have had COVID-19 and want to get back to optimum lung and musculoskeletal fitness. Cardio-respiratory physiotherapy can guide you through a tailor-made rehabilitation programme. This may include:

    • Learning how to breathe well at rest, during movement and when participating in activity or sport
    • Learning about the important elements of breathing well including nasal health, breathing patterns and muscle health
    • Learning physical coping skills for stress, fatigue, anxiety and pain management
    • Strengthening of the breathing muscles through individually tailored inspiratory muscle training programmes

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