The effect of COVID-19 infection on lungs is a well known fact by now. Understanding respiratory symptoms, it's treatment and management has thus become a crucial part of COVID-19 care.
Most patients either with mild or severe COVID-19 symptoms invariably experience some amount of breathlessness on the path to recovery. Taking into account how breathless you are it is also important to know how to deal with it.
Here are a few physiotherapy guidelines to help COVID patients on their path to recovery:
- Proper positioning: Some positions like high side-lying, forward bending, backward lean standing are useful in relieving the breathlessness and thus improving the general symptoms.
- Breathing Exercises: Controlled paced breathing has shown to improve the lung expansion and oxygen saturation of patients recovering from COVID. Phased breathing exercises [assisting diaphragm and minimizing work of accessory muscles] are thus important to be included in the recovery plan.
- Oxygen monitoring: One of the most common and often missed effects of coronavirus is a drop in oxygen saturation. This in turn causes fatigue and breathlessness leading to further complications. Hence it's very important to monitor the oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter in COVID patients. Drop-in SpO2 <90 [at rest or during exercises] should be immediately reported to the healthcare provider.
- Improve the Functional mobility: Reduction in SpO2 levels and dyspnoea often lead to a reduction in functional capacity and overall endurance of patients. Hence it's important to maintain and improve the mobility by simple bed exercises with gradual progression as per patient tolerance.
- Strengthening: Prolonged hospitalization and general fatigue frequently result in loss of muscle strength of patients recovering from COVID. So it is important to incorporate exercises that improve the functional strength of muscle groups in the final stage of rehabilitation.
These are some of the points to be followed for patients affected with and recovering from COVID. All these taken into consideration along with the general safety measures accelerate the path to recovery.
TAKE CARE AND STAY SAFE!