WORCESTER, MA — As health officials continue to warn that patients experience long-term COVID-19 symptoms may need extra medical attention, an emerging treatment for ‘long-haulers’ may be physical therapy.
Physical therapists warn that not getting the proper treatment may be dangerous.
“With these types of problems, you’re looking at prolonged debilitations,” explained Jimmy Kakouris, a physical therapist at Worcester Physical Therapy Services. “A lot of times we don’t know what the full effect is.
According to Kakouris, many of the common long-term COVID-19 symptoms are treatable.
On Friday he told Boston-25 News that he believes more people will begin to seek help as positive cases continue to surge in Massachusetts.
“Physical therapists can be the best provider to help them get better and improve functions in a faster and effective way.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most commonly reported long-term COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
Other reported long-term symptoms include:
- Difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Muscle pain
- Intermittent fever
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
Kakouris warned that not getting proper treatment can hurt a patient’s chance at recovery.
“The biggest risk in people who are maybe osteoporotic or older, or elderly patients, is they could fall and break a hip,” he explained.
According to medical experts, once COVID-19 is in the chest, it can impact a person’s airways and cause inflammation.
Kakouris told Boston-25 News that diaphragmatic breathing can help with that, and that he teaches his patients to breathe from the stomach instead of the chest.
“The belly takes in a bigger, deeper breath, using muscles that are more effective at breathing,” he said.
He added that physical therapy can also help people who have trouble with balance and other cardiovascular issues.
“We definitely should be the first source in post-rehab following any kind of COVID, the flu, or any other long-term illness.”
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