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Does Anyone Ever Recover from COVID-19?

A blog about the Community Talk event of Kakayanan Facebook Page, about COVID-19, and how do physios play an integral role in the recovery of the patients.

It is prevalent these days that we get our news, or any information, through the internet. It might not be the most reliant source, but its accessibility gave us the power to be informed with a click or a scroll. Despite that, it is an issue whether these are valid, fact-checked, or proven by a reliable stream of knowledge, experts, and anyone who's qualified to talk about important matters, especially in health. It can be frustrating, because false information can spread like wildfire if not alleviated immediately.

Therefore, the team in Kakayanan used this as a motivation to ensure that the public is aware about the facts. From this, they launched a series called “Community Talks”, with their first monthly instalment entitled “Nakarecover na ba talaga ako sa COVID?”.

The title itself is this’s blog topic, and for sure, you’re aware about the signs and symptoms to watch for, and what to do if ever you have it. But there are many people nowadays that wonder if ever there is a certain point where you fully recover after the storm.

The event was conducted on a Saturday, last August 28, 2021 and hosted by Abby Ceneda and Raye Benitez, both licensed physical therapists here in the Philippines and part of the team of physical therapists here in Kakayanan. Audiences were utterly piqued, especially by how relevant the topic it is in our today’s ongoing crisis, that the event was highly anticipated by many audiences from facets of life who are able to access Facebook.

Myths, Crash Course, and COVID-19 Recover

After a few interludes, the program started with introductions, and followed by debunking myths and raising awareness about COVID-19. It was an interactive ice-breaker not only for the hosts, but also for their audiences to see whether they are mindful of the correct information. Most of the questions accumulated by the team before the event, were answered as myths. They were topics as follows:

If it’s still safer to wear gloves instead of handwashing?
Is it necessary to disinfect your shoes to prevent the virus from spreading? ; and
Is it impossible to recover from it entirely?

These were promptly answered with confidence, and the hosts were able to explain of why it is a myth, and there might be exceptions to whatever an individual’s situation is.

Thereafter, a crash course of COVID-19 was expounded, and transitioned to what physical therapy is entirely. The important point here is that, most people are not fully informed about what physical therapy is.

This is true for the most part of my experience since I became a physical therapist. In most scenarios, I have to explain myself on what I do and what can the public benefit from my profession.

Nevertheless, it was explained that we provide care for patients or clients to continue their life despite their disability, and even recover from these ailments with independence. Not only that, it’s also regarded that we provide exercise programs for clients to achieve fitness goals. Overall, the ultimate goal is to improve quality of life.

Personal Experiences, and Paved Paths

Raye, a physiotherapist herself, shared her experience from contracting COVID-19. As she described every detail, it was still gruelling, especially when she mentioned that she acquired the virus in during the early days of it where no one knows what to do about it.

The pertinent symptoms appeared, and her worry grew from having asthma, as this is a comorbidity that would potentially put her in a severe condition. Fortunately, from her 14-day isolation, her acute illness reduced, but there was still a struggle to breathe, and unable to get up properly.

This ignited an idea from her of what she can do as a professional to treat herself. The experience was truly remarkable, as this paved the way for her to finally enter a point of her career that she is now treating post-COVID patients about their long-hauled signs and symptoms.

One of these patients is patient Elcee, and with her consent she was able to share her story towards recovery. On her history, she was admitted to the hospital from having the severe symptoms of COVID-19. The critical point of her life was her severity, from loss of breath, and her oxygen levels slumping lower than 70%, which is not within the normal limits of any functioning person. From this, she was provided with a high flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy. She also shared that asides from COVID-19, she had a blood infection and underwent blood perfusion almost two or more hours a day.

As she turns back and witness the photos she had during those challenging times, she couldn't believe that she will be able to overcome it. Slowly, her condition and vitals improved, but she was still unable to breathe properly, as the oxygen support is removed. The first intervention provided to her was an incentive spirometry to practice normal breathing once again.

After 15 days of admission, she was then brought home. The long haul symptoms were then observed, wherein she cannot even get up from bed to go to the lavatory, asides from breathing problems but also generalized muscle weakness.

Raye, then came to the picture for her utmost recovery. See picture above as a preview of one of their sessions. This was through COVID-19 Rehabilitation under the Kakayanan treatment program: Amihan that greatly benefitted

The Amihan program is relatively new, and it caters to patients with long-term effects of the virus to the body, like decreased endurance, reduced breathing capacity, and generalized weakness.

She was extremely grateful not only from the healthcare workers that took care of her, the support of her family, but through the suggestion of a nurse friend to be referred to physical therapy. From that point, she was able to gain strength and had a moment of realization when she was finally able to get up and walk after the 5th session.

Long COVID, and How Important Physical Therapy Is

A prevalent study from July 2021 about the symptoms, complications, and management of COVID has presented a simple illustration of the standardized clinical course for patients after the illness, including: long term monitoring, mental health support, social services, and rehabilitation services

It is usually disregarded after discharge from the hospital, and leave it up to the patients to recover on their own. This is tricky, especially even 6 months after the said illness attack, where several people still experience problems on persistent symptoms, and other problems that could affect their lives like memory, breathing, and capacity to tolerate activities and its execution.

The best advice to these complications is to consult your physician today, see through what can be done about it, and if any activity in your day-to-day life is disrupted, call up a physical therapist!

The Public’s Interest

The latter part of the program was about answering the questions from the audiences themselves. The questions were chosen by their relevance of the topic to the said talk.

For instance, what would be the difference amongst the categories from mild to severe cases, vaccination after recovery, and if testing is necessary after 14 days of isolation.

There were also other inquiries that was mainly for public’s interest, for example, is inhaler same as the so-called steam inhalation or suob (which is not, apparently), mainly the misinformed use of the medication “Ivermectin.”

The hosts handled this issues by informing the public consulting to your doctor is imperative to have the proper medications you require, in order to recover from COVID-19.

A disclaimer to anyone: our colleagues who can prescribe medications who treat COVID, the Department of Health in the Philippines, with the CDC in the United States, have guidelines on what’s safe to medicate and human use. The medical community may have its mishaps along the way, it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for human use, even for COVID-19. 

The systematic review/metaanalysis that was published on the early half of the year about its effectiveness had to be removed due to ethical issues like alterations to sampling, and other validity and reliability problems. More details in this article. And here's another for a scientific explanation. Therefore, listen to your doctors, they know what’s best for you.

A Great Endeavour Ahead

To conclude, the audiences were asked to participate in one of the three rooms in order to be aware about simple exercises to do in order to recover from long COVID. This is also a preview of what might any patient that books for the Amihan (one-on-one) and Habagat (group sessions) programs will encounter throughout their sessions.

Here in the picture was one of the breakout rooms with Bon Luigi Garay, a licensed physical therapist who's also part of the team of Kakayanan. One of the participants then shared their sentiments about the talk, and how the exercises as simple as what was instructed benefitted them.

Truly it was an exceptional hour talk about matters that were necessary for the public to be aware about what COVID-19 can do to our body, not only by short-term, but also it’s long term effects to our everyday lives. The open forum also gave a chance to the audiences to have their answers to their wavering concerns, and ultimately the hosts were able to convey the proper information about how relevant and imperative physical therapy is towards recovery from COVID-19.

You can watch the whole live, here, and here are the highlights of the Community Talk!

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