HMC highlights significant role of physiotherapy in treating Long COVID
In recognition of World Physiotherapy Day, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has shined a spotlight on the significant role of physiotherapy in helping patients recovering from COVID-19 get healthier.
HMC’s Physiotherapy Department is at the frontline of providing physiotherapy services to recovering COVID-19 patients with varied and complex needs.
Chief of Physiotherapy at HMC, Noora Al Mudahka said, “We are recognizing some of the effects of long COVID symptoms as being really common, such as fatigue, breathlessness, and muscle weakness.”
“Long COVID is a multi-system disease; there are over 200 listed symptoms which occur in variable combinations and can fluctuate in both predictable and unpredictable patterns of flare-ups and remissions,” she explained.
The condition is defined as the presence of signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID-19. These last for 12 weeks or more, the health official mentioned.
“Typically, it is referred to as acute COVID-19 until four weeks and ongoing COVID-19 from four to 12 weeks,” she said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that those undergoing rehabilitation for Long COVID must be educated about resuming daily activities at an appropriate pace. These patients should not exhaust themselves and be mindful of avoiding fatigue.
“Physiotherapy includes exercise interventions and patient education in resuming everyday activities conservatively, at an appropriate pace that is safe and manageable for energy levels within the limits of current symptoms,” Al Mudahka underlined.
“An individualized multidimensional exercise program facilitates in reducing the symptoms and improving patient’s strength and endurance,” she added.
Explaining the role of physiotherapists, the senior official said they work in various clinical settings including dealing with young patients to those in intensive care units, as well as assisting those under long-term care rehabilitation facilities and in the community.
“Our team includes specialties such as orthopedics, neurology, cardiorespiratory, pediatrics, women’s health, men’s health, geriatrics, oncology, community-based physiotherapy, and mental health,” Al Mudahka said.
Over 800 patients at HMC’s designated COVID facilities (Hazm Mebeireek General Hospital, Hamad General Hospital, Al Wakra Hospital and Mesaeed Hospital) were treated by the physiotherapy team to help them breathe better and move early.
“This started in the Intensive Care Units and continued all the way to the patient’s home after discharge from hospital. This has facilitated better recovery of patients and a reduced length of stay,” Al Mudahka mentioned.
“COVID-19 presented us with a number of challenges and our work continues with patients who are recovering from the virus. Rehabilitation for Long COVID must be tailored to the individual, depending on their symptoms, goals and preferences,” she said.
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