What is Post Acute COVID Syndrome?
As we navigate through this pandemic, we have learned that recovery from COVID-19 can pose a new set of challenges for both patients and healthcare providers. A subgroup of people who have “recovered” from COVID-19 will continue to experience symptoms that hang around well after testing negative for the virus. These patients have been referred to as “COVID long-haulers,” and can benefit from specialized care that includes physical therapy. In partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, Dynamic Sports PT is now treating patients experiencing Post Acute COVID Syndrome (PACS).
PACS Symptoms Can Include:
- General Weakness
- Shortness of Breath/Dyspnea
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Chest pain
- Brain fog, inability to concentrate, impaired memory
- Loss of taste and/or smell
- Sleep issues
What should I expect with Physical Therapy?
The goal of physical therapy for those with PACS is to enable patients to increase their physical activity levels and exercise capacity. This is primarily accomplished by targeting strength, endurance, balance, and functional abilities with a wide scope of movement-based interventions. In addition, extra concern is given to each patient’s response to activity, particularly their respiration—or breathing—while performing these tasks. Therefore, patients’ oxygen saturation—which measures how well they are breathing—is monitored and regulated before, during, and after physical activity to ensure it does not exceed a certain level.
Our PACS rehabilitation protocol is exercise-based and consistent with evidence-based practices for similar conditions. In addition to monitoring respiration, we assess the following parameters during a patient’s first visit and at each subsequent appointment:
- Exercise and functional capacity
- Presence of pre-existing conditions
- Muscle and joint range of motion
- Ability to complete normal activities of daily living
Once these baseline assessments are recorded, your physical therapist will design a personalized treatment program based on your specific symptoms, impairments, and goals. Programs vary from patient to patient, but in most cases the following interventions are used:
- Generalized strengthening exercises to build back muscles that may have been weakened by inactivity
- Progressive aerobic and cardiovascular endurance exercises to increase activity levels and exercise capacity
- Mobility and stretching exercises to improve flexibility and range of motion
- Neuromuscular electrical stimulation to assist with muscle strengthening
- Biofeedback, a technique that teaches patients to voluntarily control certain bodily processes through electrical sensors and audio/visual cues
- Mindfulness-based techniques, which help patients identify and understand triggers that exacerbate their PACS symptoms; when combined with biofeedback, these two techniques can train patients to downregulate these processes and effectively reduce their symptoms
PACS rehabilitation can be performed remotely through a virtual portal, also known as Telehealth. Required equipment for Virtual Physical Therapy would include:
- Personal Computer (PC or Apple)
- Mobile Device
- Pulse Oximeter
- Blood pressure cuff
- Access to a treadmill will be required during the later stages of the Protocol.