Los Angeles residents who experienced severe or long-lasting Covid-19 symptoms may feel overwhelmed with the countless treatments being touted as cure-alls for their struggles. Recently, physical therapy has emerged as a recommended tool for recovery – but can it really help?

How physical therapy can help

It is well-documented that Covid-19 can result in health issues long after a person has fought off the infection. For those who were severely ill, that risk is heightened – not only because of Covid-19, but because of the physical inactivity required to recover from the disease.

The longer muscles go unused, the more function they lose. Extended periods of immobility can also reduce stamina, which needs to be rebuilt slowly. People experiencing long Covid may have postexertional malaise (PEM), a condition that causes their symptoms to worsen with exercise. A physical therapist can guide someone with PEM to carefully pace themselves in rebuilding stamina.

When should physical therapy start?

Physical therapy can begin as early as hospital recovery, depending on a patient’s condition. Physical therapy this early in recovery looks different than therapy beginning later in recovery. This type of physical therapy aims to prevent muscle deterioration and increase the likelihood of returning to full mobility/function long term. Examples of what physical therapy in the hospital make look like includes:

  • Helping people change positions in bed
  • Passive joint motion, which means the therapist moves the patient’s body for them
  • Teaching stretches or motions that patients can perform in bed or at bedside
  • Practicing walking

A recent study indicated that hospital physical therapy can make a significant difference in long-term prognosis, leading to lower mortality rates. In this study, Covid-19 patients who received physical therapy had a 12% mortality rate, compared to a 25% mortality rate in those that did not. This is even more remarkable considering that those who received physical therapy were overall older, had more comorbidities (other chronic health issues), and were generally at lower levels of physical function than those who did not receive physical therapy.

The challenges of physical therapy during the pandemic

For those receiving physical therapy for Covid-related illness after being released from the hospital, receiving physical therapy has become more of a challenge. Efforts to reduce transmission have led many physical therapists to offer telehealth services through video chat. While effective for consultation sessions and those patients able to perform directives unassisted, this is insufficient for patients who need hands-on care.

For these patients, doctors have worked to bring services to patients in the form of house calls. Providers who offer these services will bring equipment to you, and conduct a physical therapy appointment on location.

Accessing Covid-19 testing at home

For many who have severe or long lasting symptoms, regular Covid-19 testing is necessary to determine when it’s safe to be around others. This can be a challenge for people who need physical assistance, but don’t want to infect others.

Onsite medical service providers    

The most accessible way to get rapid tests is through health care providers. Onsite medical service providers, like Concierge MD LA, Live Better Solutions, Becore will send a nurse with a Covid test to your house to administer Coronavirus tests to you and your household. In addition to convenience and risk of exposure, those recovering from severe Covid-19 symptoms may appreciate having the test administered by a professional who can ensure the test is administered correctly and with the least discomfort possible.

DIY Kits

The Covid-19 testing kits most easily accessible from retailers are PCR test kits. These tests require lab processing, meaning that you administer the test to yourself and mail it back to a laboratory in order to get results. The turnaround time for results can be anywhere from 3-14 days, depending on the lab and mail delivery times.

DIY rapid test kits were authorized for emergency use by the general public for the first time recently. These tests are designed to be administered at home and return results in 15 minutes. These kits are still in production, but are expected to debut in coming weeks. The tests are expected to cost roughly $30 once production is at full capacity, but will likely debut at a much higher price per test.

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