In regards to COVID, as a country, we have been uniquely focused on infection and survival rates. States and school districts have set up dashboards to help keep everyone informed as much as possible. News sources are still providing regular updates. Very little, however, is said about the quality of life that COVID patients have if they spent prolonged periods in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Did you know that around 70% of ICU patients that are released suffer from neuromuscular deficits and weakness? These are all symptoms of Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS). PICS is described by the Cleveland Clinic, as a collection of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that continue to persist after a patient leaves the ICU.
Physical complications include impairments in:
- Muscle strength
- Pulmonary function
- Gait speed
- Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
As physical and occupational therapists, we are uniquely prepared to help patients who have required a hospital stay, admission to the ICU, and often ventilation during their COVID-19 treatment.
What to Expect During Physical Therapy for Post Intensive Care Syndrome
Patient interview screening questions for COVID will help your team identify yellow flags, which may indicate the patient is at risk for additional physical limitations, cognitive deficits, and biopsychosocial aftermath. Physical and occupational therapists can combat these issues by providing individualized treatments programs that may include:
- A progressive strengthening exercise program
- Functional activities/ADL training
- ROM, flexibility exercises, manual therapy techniques
- A graded aerobic conditioning program
- Gait training program
- Pain Neuroscience Education (PNE) including relaxation training, ADL pacing, sleep hygiene
- Neuromuscular re-education/proprioceptive training
- Patient education & aftercare wellness programs
Physical Therapy for Post Intensive Care Syndrome can help post-COVID patients get back into their daily routines and activities. Patients that have trouble or feel uncomfortable going into the clinic have the option to receive care virtually through Telehealth. As caregivers, the main goal is to help patients recover in the setting that best suits their needs. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our licensed physical therapists.