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How to Endure Long COVID Devastation: Ottawa's Rehabilitation Program Provides Tools, Support and Hope

"The devastation that these individuals are causing at the height of their lives is extraordinary."

Monique Stone tested positive for COVID-19 in January 2021. The acute phase of the illness was not severe, but she continues to feel the effects of long COVID more than a year later. She's part of The Ottawa Hospital's long COVID rehab program.
Monique Stone inspected COVID-19 in January 2021 Was positive. The acute phase of her illness was not severe, but she continues to feel the effects. She is part of a long COVID rehabilitation program at Otawa Hospital.Photo: Julie Oliver/Post Media

In their past life, exercises are almost funny. was. I stood up from my chair, sat down again, stretched, and lifted a lightweight object. But it was before COVID-19.

Today, these exercises are a challenge for many patients participating in Otawa Hospital's groundbreaking post-COVID rehabilitation program. Long COVID. Currently, they are having a hard time completing basic tasks. And there are more people like them waiting for help.

This program, which provides physical, psychological and social support and skills to people with long COVIDs, cannot keep up with demand.

And even though researchers are beginning to understand the causes of long COVIDs, their demand is expected to increase.

People who participated in a small group of virtual programs over a week say it was a game changer. Not because it cures them, but because it gives them the tools to deal with them and helps them understand that they are not alone.

"I didn't have much hope that this rehabilitation would fix me," said 50-year-old Kerri-Lynn Herbert. "For me, it was to make sure I wasn't alone."

Most participants had relatively mild cases of COVID-19, but the protracted aftereffects were: It was so serious that it affected my ability to function in my daily life and work. The most common symptoms among participants are extreme fatigue, which is exacerbated by too much activity, cognitive impairment such as brain fog, shortness of breath, anxiety, fear, and chest tightness.

Needless to say, some of the important lessons of the program include acceptance and learning your own pace. If the COVID is long, pacing is everything.

Unlike other health problems that require rehabilitation, too much activity can have serious adverse effects on many long COVID patients. One participant talked about taking a shower, dressing up and having dinner with a friend after she felt she could do it. After a night when she was blessed to look good, she spent the next two weeks in bed and recovered.

"The devastation that these individuals are causing at the height of their lives is extraordinary," said Wendy Lafranboise, a nurse who coordinates the program.

Since starting as a pilot last year, 41 patients have undergone a pioneering rehabilitation program in the hospital. There are another 53 people waiting to enter, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Given the number of Otawa inhabitants who have COVIDs, Laframboise says there are probably thousands of people in cities that have some long COVIDs. Many are medical professionals and are infected with COVID-19 at a higher rate than in other societies through pandemics.

Dr. Shawn Marshall heads the division of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital.
Dr. Sean Marshall is from Otawa University and Otawa Hospital.Photo courtesy of Ottawa Hospital Research Institu/Handouts

Dr. Shawn Marshall, Head of the University's Physics and Rehabilitation Department, by Otawa and Otawa Hospital And while the program is funded by existing funds, it requires direct funding to meet the needs of patients.

"This is affecting people's lives," he said. "These people are very much affected."

Many experts have long said that COVID can overwhelm the health system and have a serious impact on society. I'm worried. Some will recover completely, while others will not be able to regain their previous physical abilities.

Long COVIDs are characterized by a variety of symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, brain fog and other neurological problems and can last for months or more after the diagnosis of COVID-19. ..

According to calculations such as the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table in Ontario, 10-30% of people who experience COVID develop long COVID.

Studies emphasize how catastrophic COVID can be, but it is also beginning to provide hope.

A Canadian study published last week identified microscopic abnormalities that affect how people with long COVIDs exchange oxygen from their lungs to red blood cells. did. Findings may pave the way for treatment.

Recent studies have also pointed out that people who test positive for COVID-19 are at increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

It is unclear what that means to the individual until treatment is given. Some return to work and return to the health and energy baseline, while others live with long-term changes in health and abilities.

Participant Monique Stone considers himself lucky in many ways. A 51-year-old English priest at Julian in Norwich Church on Merivert Road was able to get back to work, albeit at a different pace than before COVID-19.

"I can do what I need. My workplace allows me to adapt. If I worked at Tim Houghtons, Or if you were a nurse who worked in shifts for 12 hours, there's no way to do that, you can't even imagine, "Stone said.

Her symptoms include shortness of breath, fog in the brain, and a feeling of fatigue.

Her rehabilitation program asserted for her: The components of rehabilitation are talking about adapting to new realities and new limits.

Stone tested positive for COVID-19 in January 2021. The acute phase of her illness was not serious.

She said, "To be honest, it wasn't the worst illness in my life, it was like a terrible cold."

But she didn't recover completely. Then, about a month after her test was positive, she began to experience a level of fatigue she had never felt before.

"It was almost a surreal lack of energy, a lack of ability to do anything." She took a month off from her job and couldn't do much. did. As she roamed the grocery store, she said, "I've beaten me." She learned to respect her limits.

A file photo of The Ottawa Hospital General Campus. Since the hospitals’ long COVID rehab program began last year as a pilot, 41 patients have been through it. There are another 53 people waiting to get in.
File photo of Otawa Hospital General Campus. Forty-one patients have experienced it since the hospital's long COVID rehabilitation program was launched as a pilot last year. There are another 53 people waiting to come in.Photo by Ashley Blazer/Post Media

Since then, the rehabilitation program has helped her learn her own pace She is seeing improvements in time.

"My hope is to be able to manage well within some new boundaries. I think I'm pretty lucky. Compared to some people, I have a really good life, "Stone said.

One of the great benefits of the program for Stone and others is that it connects with others who have similar experiences.

"It was all about being part of this group. I feel better," said Herbert, who finished the rehabilitation program. "I don't feel like you're alone."

She and her group members are planning to meet in person for the first time this summer.

In the early stages of the pandemic, Herbert, then 49, had her already suffering from lung disease, so she did everything she could to avoid COVID-19.

I thought, "If I get a COVID, I'll probably die."

She survived when she and most of her family were infected with the virus in January 2021, but regaining her pre-COVID-19 energy and her health levels. There wasn't.

More than a year later, she lives with severe nerve pain, overwhelming fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of odor.

She wants to go back to her previous COVID, but the program provides support and tools to deal with her current state. Some of these tools provide a way to store energy when doing household chores such as cooking and cleaning.

People participating in the program include physical therapists, vocational therapists, psychologists, social welfare professionals, people with financial expertise, and people returning to work. Get help from a team of clinicians, including people who can help.

The program was launched at Otawa Hospital in July 2021 based in part on a recommendation from the World Health Organization for long-term COVID rehabilitation, La Fran Boise said. The patient must be referred by a doctor.

Most participants in the program are women, with an average age of 44 years. Many are medical professionals or play a leading role in their work. La Fran Boise added that they often feel that they are irreversible, or at least not full-time, and are burdening their families. Patients who took the

program stated that they were able to better manage their symptoms and improved their quality of life.

"It gives them hope. It gives them support."

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