Long COVID – How Can Physio Help?

Long COVID – How Can Physio Help?

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What is Long COVID?


South African National Physiotherapy Week runs from the 6th – 12th of September this year, the theme is “the mental health impact of Covid – and how physiotherapists, can help”. 

With this in mind, we thought we’d look specifically at the long-lasting effects of the disease, as they’re often directly linked to mental health. It can be incredibly taxing on your mental health when it seems as if it will never end.

So let’s be proactive and nip it in the bud!

Let’s begin with a definition and an understanding:
“Long COVID has been preliminarily defined as the presence of signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19 which continue for 12 weeks or more.”

For reference;

  • Acute COVID-19 lasts from 0 – 4 weeks
  • Ongoing COVID-19 lasts from 4 – 12 weeks
  • Long COVID-19 lasts from 12 weeks onwards

It occurs in 10% of all COVID cases, a terrifyingly high number – which reinforces the need for vaccination, social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing.

With over 200 recognised COVID symptoms, your Long COVID symptoms could vary, but the most common are;

  • Extreme exhaustion (fatigue)
  • Post-exertional symptom exacerbation (PESE – see this infographic for more info)
  • Problems with memory and concentration (brain fog)

Other common features are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness difficulty sleeping (insomnia) heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tinnitus, earaches
  • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • Rashes

Check out this a useful infographic with some more details for your reference.


How Can Physiotherapy Help?


Physiotherapists can assist with individually tailored rehabilitation programs designed to treat the exact symptoms that you or your loved one are experiencing.

Rehabilitation is a set of interventions to optimise functioning in everyday activities, support individuals to recover or adjust, achieve their full potential, and enable a return to normal activities. It is a fundamental part of recovery from any illness or injury.

“Long COVID rehabilitation should include educating people about resuming everyday activities conservatively, at an appropriate pace that is safe and manageable for energy levels within the limits of current symptoms, and exertion should not be pushed to the point of fatigue or worsening of symptoms.” – WHO

Regardless of the symptoms you experience, as physiotherapists, we will treat you as an individual and get to know the underlying cause before starting treatment, because rehabilitation for individuals recovering from COVID-19 is different for everyone.

To effectively rehabilitate a patient, physiotherapists may work with other health professionals as part of your assessment and rehabilitation programme. Various tests may be carried out to understand and find the cause of symptoms.

As holistic healers, physiotherapy is ideal for the treatment of Long COVID, so if you or someone you know is suffering from it please get in touch with your physio to explore treatment options to return to full health!

For more info have a look at this infographic from World Physiotherapy


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