Long COVID

Posted October 29, 2021
Caitlin Williams
Physiotherapist
BKin(Hon), MSc(PT), MScCl(Manip Ther), DPT, FCAMPT

As evidence emerges from COVID-19, we are learning of a new illness called Long COVID. Long COVID is a health condition that arises after an acute infection (longer than 3 weeks from the onset of their first symptoms) from COVID-19 (1). This can occur in people who have been hospitalized, those who have not been in hospital and those with a mild infection (1). It is estimated that 10-30% of people who contract COVID will continue to have symptoms 12 weeks after their acute infection (1). Long COVID affects multiple systems in your body including the respiratory, cardiac, renal, endocrine and neurological systems (1). 

Common symptoms of Long COVID can include:  

  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Cognitive dysfunction/brain fog
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Earaches and tinnitus
  • Heart palpitation
  • Chest pressure
  • Joint or muscle pain

One may present with one or many of the symptoms listed above, and the pattern in which they are present may not be the same for each individual.  

As health care professionals, the team at Elora Physiotherapy has been educated on long COVID and how to safely guide our clients through their rehabilitation program.  

Clients will begin with a thorough assessment starting with a detailed history of their COVID symptoms; if they were in the hospital, did they stay in the ICU and for how many days, etc. Baseline values will be taken of the client’s heart rate, blood pressure, exercise capacity, strength and activity tolerance so that an individualized exercise program can be created. A slow paced, phased approach will be taken for returning clients to their normal activity level, this way the therapist can closely monitor the client for any change in their symptoms and adjust as necessary. Physiotherapists are also trained to screen for the need for a referral to another health care professional, which may include an Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist, Social Worker, Psychotherapist, and more.  

The evidence continues to emerge as to the best way to treat long COVID and the team at Elora Physiotherapy is committed to stay informed and educated to best treat our community.  Together we will get through this. 

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References

1. World Physiotherapy. World physiotherapy response to COVID-19 briefing paper 9. Safe rehabilitation approaches for people living with Long COVID: physical activity and exercise. London, UK: World Physiotherapy; 2021. Available from: https://world.physio/sites/default/files/2021-07/Briefing-Paper-9-Long-Covid-FINAL-English-2021_0.pdf