Get Back To Normal Life With Post Covid-19 Rehabilitation Exercises

The whole world experienced a backlash in terms of both physical and mental health due to Covid-19 in the year 2020. As we all hoped that this year would be normal, but the novel coronavirus has not gone yet.

Several countries around the world are fighting against the virus by implementing as many possible measures as they can and some other countries have stepped into the post covid phase.

The post covid phase could be daunting for everyone who is still recovering from covid-19. But physical therapy can help to recover from the post covid phase with the help of rehabilitation exercises.

What Is Long Covid?

The usual time period for an individual to recover from the covid-19 condition is reported as two weeks. However, some individuals develop distressing symptoms or side effects that last for several weeks and even months. This condition is termed as long covid.

 

The term long covid is used to describe the side effects caused due to the coronavirus disease in some patients that last for more than 12 weeks. 

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that 81% of people who are affected by the virus experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover from the illness without treatment while 14% of people develop some major symptoms that can last for several weeks.

 

These types of side effects can be treated with the help of physical therapy. Several physical therapy clinics out there are now offering teletherapy services or telerehabilitation services for their patients. This is really a piece of comforting news for those covid-19 recovered patients who have developed some form of side effects.

Post-Covid Rehabilitation

 

Post Covid Rehabilitation is the method of treatment for patients recovering from covid-19 and who have developed serious side effects.

The symptoms of long covid according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) include

  • Loss of function and strength
  • Muscle weakness and pain
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or Anxiety
  • Breathing difficulties

After being hospitalized for several days or weeks, people need more care since they will be weak and strive hard to perform their normal activities. This weakness can be treated with the help of physical therapy rehabilitation assisted by physical therapists.

It is found that physical therapy can help restore muscle function and provide an improvement in mobility helping the patients to restore their normal pain-free lives with good mental health.

Physical therapists will help the covid-19 recovering patients with the following treatments

  • Breathing exercises that help them to increase their lung capacity
  • Aerobic exercises for the improvement of pulmonary health
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Balance training 
  • Low-intensity resistance exercises such as squats
  • Practice walking without anyone’s assistance

 

Below are some exercises that your physical therapist may recommend during post-covid-19 rehabilitation.

1) Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques (ACBT)

The Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques is a set of breathing exercises that can clear excess secretion from the lungs thereby increasing the function of the lungs. As the sputum secrets more in people with any type of lung problem, it is important to clear the lungs and breathe more easily.

 

It is known that the coronavirus mainly affects the lungs and respiratory system. After recovering from the covid-19 disease, the patient’s lung function needs to be restored. Hence covid-19 recovering patients should practice ACBT to remove the sputum from their lungs.

 

It is important to note that physical therapists should assist the patients in performing ACBT exercises. The set of ACBT exercises are breathing control, deep breathing and huffing which are performed in a cycle to clear the chest.

 

Breathing control – This is a gentle breathing exercise that can relax the airways. Place the hands on the abdomen and concentrate on feeling the abdomen rise and fall with each breathe-in and breathe-out process. The breathe-out should be done slowly and in a relaxed manner.

 

Deep Breathing – This technique involves taking a long deep breathe-in slowly through the nose and then a relaxed breathe-out through the mouth. The chest and shoulders should be kept relaxed. The main aim of doing deep breathing exercises is to increase the ability of the patient to breathe normally while doing daily activities. They help in restoring the diaphragm function and increasing lung capacity. When these deep breathing exercises are done consistently, they help in relieving stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality.

Huffing – This technique is carried out by taking a normal breathe-in, holding breathe for two to three seconds and then exhaling or huffing the air forcefully. It helps to force the sputum up and out of the airways.

Coughing – Coughing should be performed only when the patient feels like the sputum is in the back of the throat. If not, then return to the beginning of the breathing cycle.

2) Walking

Patients recovering from covid-19 will experience fatigue and a feeling of exhaustion. To build muscle strength, it is necessary to go for a walk daily. Walking is the best aerobic exercise for the lower limbs.

Starting with small walks of light pace is better and the patient must ensure that he/she do not have a fever. The patients should walk in a flat and spacious area. They can use a stick if necessary. It is advised to increase the speed and distance as they progress.

3) Warm-up Exercises

Warm-up exercises are important for the patients recovering from covid-19 as these exercises can prepare their body for exercising and prevent injury during the post covid rehabilitation. The exercises include 

Shoulder shrugs – Slowly lift the shoulder up and then down again.

Shoulder circles – Keep the arms relaxed by placing them on the lap, then slowly move the

shoulders round in a circle forward and then backward.

Side bends – Stand straight and place the arms by the side. Gently bend to the right side and then the left side

Knee lifts – Lift one knee gently up and down slowly, not higher than the hip. Then lift the other knee.

Ankle taps – Stand straight, use one foot to tap the toes and then the heel on the floor. Repeat the same with the other foot

Ankle circles – Roll the ankles slowly one at a time. Move just the ankle and foot, not the leg

4) Strengthening Exercises

Covid-19 would have a great impact on the muscles. This is due to the disuse of muscles during the period of illness that led to a rapid loss of muscle mass. As a result, the patient might experience muscle weakness, fatigue, and muscle atrophy. Strengthening exercises play a vital role in getting muscle strength back.

These exercises include bicep curl, wall push-off, arm raises to the side, sit to stand, knee straightening, knee lifts, squats, and heel raises.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have spoken about the importance of exercises post covid recovery, as physical activities are the only way to get back to your normal life. Research says that physical therapy can help patients recovering from covid-19 by restoring their muscle function and increasing their mobility.

But do not perform these activities if you have a fever, shortness of breath, or chest pain. Contact a physical therapist and make use of the telerehabilitation services for the best assistance.

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