Chennai’s Kauvery Hospital has successfully treated a 38-year-old COVID-19 patient who had 80% of his lungs infected. With continuous treatment and rehabilitation that was provided, 38-year-old Santhosh Rajan is now able to breathe without the help of oxygen cylinders.
“He felt the improvement, day by day, once we switched him to nasal cannula from conventional oxygen therapy, and then helped him to breathe normally, but still under oxygen support on and off. We observed that rehabilitation therapies helped him. He was given breathing exercises thrice a day and his breathing patterns were monitored regularly. The blood oxygen levels (SpO2) after rehabilitation exercises improved significantly, thereby increasing his wellbeing. He was completely out of oxygen support in just 5 days after starting his rehabilitation therapies,” said Dr G Balamurali, Head of Department Spine Surgery, Kauvery Hospital Chennai and Managing Director, HAMSA Rehab.
Dr Balamurali said during COVID, we realised that those patients affected with severe COVID and hospitalised for long duration, required rehabilitation to recover completely. “People who have pre-existing medical issues like obesity, multiple organ involvement, those who have a prolonged stay in ICU or a hospital or under mechanical ventilation, may develop consequences in terms of physical, psychological and cognitive disability. Almost 50% of those who stay in a hospital or in an ICU for a long period of time are known to have similar problems for up to 1 year after recovery from COVID," he explained.
Some of the effects of severe COVID-19, especially in the elderly, the obese and in patients with diabetes, cardiac and lung problems are psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, depression and fear. These can be taken care of by psychological counselling and therapies. Intellectual abilities like memory, attention, and the concentration of the mind required for planning and execution etc. will be impaired in two out of three patients who are out of ICU. These effects may last up to one year. Affected patients may need to be supported with respiratory exercises, and mindfulness and other psycho-social interventions.
Two other patients who illustrate the impact of Long COVID were a 62-year-old and 69-year-old, who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with symptoms of fever and breathlessness, the hospital said. "The patients were at hospital for two weeks, and were later shifted to the rehab centre in order to regain their ability to breathe freely and move their hands and legs with ease. The team of physiotherapists gave them respiratory exercises using spirometers. Within a few days, they were able to practice all the exercises themselves, achieving recovery," said Dr Balamurali.
There is evidence to show that those who receive early rehabilitation, as they recover from the acute phase, improve better in their physical, mental and social well-being. There is also clear evidence that post-COVID rehabilitation reduces complications, and avoids re-admission to the hospital, thereby aiding better recovery, the hospital added.
"Rehabilitation helps in improving recovery and does not worsen the present condition. It reduces disability, provides early discharge from the hospital and prevents complications which might increase the severity of disability, and other uncontrolled health issues. Apart from these, diet counselling, muscle strengthening and psychological support are also given to make the patient feel healthier mentally and physically," said Dr Balamurali.