Local physical therapist explains how they can help struggling COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’

Local News

Many struggle doing tasks that came easy to them before getting the virus

(WKBN) – The pandemic has taken an emotional and physical toll on some people. Some who have had COVID-19 are now dealing with some side effects that make everything more difficult.

“Sitting up in a bed is hard, standing up is hard, taking two steps to a potty chair next to their bed is extremely hard and exhausting. They’re out of breath, it takes a lot longer for them to recover,” said Vince Ragozine, a physical trainer with Phoenix TuDor Physical Therapy.

Ragozine is referencing “COVID long-haulers,” or people that are no longer testing positive but still experience the symptoms of weakness, fatigue and trouble breathing.

For those who have healed but experience these issues, Ragozine recommends contacting a physical therapist.

“What we’re going to do is start from the basics,” he said. “Working on core strength, breathing, deep breathing, pursed-lip breathing, calming anxiety.”

Though many things can be done within the home, some patients need skilled help with the tasks.

“Straight leg raises, bridging, different types of core exercises, diaphragmatic breathing, bedside exercises. It could be standing, doing little squats, doing some kicks and then endurance. How far can you walk? How long can you stay on your feet?” Ragozine said. “Can you be on your feet long enough to make a sandwich? Can you get up and down the two steps? Can you get in and out of your car?”

That’s where physical therapists can help, and Ragozine said they have helped some post-COVID-19 patients with these issues.

After a person graduates from home care, meaning they can get around their house on their own comfortably, a physical therapist will recommend outpatient therapy.

“We have exercise equipment, bikes, treadmills, things like that that they can work on,” Ragozine said.

Ragozine also said patients might experience aches and pains because when a person has trouble breathing, they tend to tense up around the neck. That is something they can work on fixing as well.

“We’re going to see what level they’re at when they first come in,” Ragozine said. “We want to definitely have benchmarks along the way where we want them to be, progress-wise.”

Those benchmarks will be determined on what a person was able to do before they were sick.

“Then, we’ll instill a plan of care, whether it’s endurance walking and cardiovascular exercises, strengthening, more functional exercise. Can they bend down and pick something off the floor without falling over? Can they reach overhead to get something out of a cupboard? All of those aspects will be taken into consideration when we form their plan of care,” Ragozine said.

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