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Post-Covid syndrome and the rehabilitation pathway

Over two years after the onset of the pandemic, acute COVID-19 infection is still widespread in the general population worldwide, with high levels of morbidity (percentage frequency of the disease in the community) and mortality.

Today, we know with certainty that – as highlighted in previous pandemics – the acute phase of the disease, when resolved positively, is associated with a prolonged persistence of disabling symptoms, which can last a long time and significantly reduce the chances of rapid functional recovery. This occurs both in cases that did not require hospitalization and in more severe cases treated in COVID wards or intensive care units.

The symptoms in question affect the musculoskeletal system (asthenia, muscle weakness, easy fatigability), the respiratory system (exertional dyspnea, persistent cough, prolonged desaturation), the cardiovascular system (palpitations and chest pain, especially with minimal exertion), and the central nervous system (anxiety and depression, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment).

The causes of what is termed “post-COVID syndrome” are multiple, partly related to the aftermath of pneumonia and the “cytokine storm” – a particularly violent reaction of the immune defenses that, instead of protecting against the virus, attack all the patient’s organs – and partly to the psychological consequences of such an important and serious infection. The symptoms just described can persist long after the end of the acute phase of the disease, even for several months, affecting the quality of life of patients and slowing down their full functional recovery.

This condition requires appropriate rehabilitative intervention, both physical and psychological, aimed at progressively re-educating the patient to resume their usual lifestyle. To promote recovery, it is important to prepare a plan of respiratory and motor rehabilitation that includes an assessment of the main causes of the patient’s exercise limitation (whether respiratory, cardiac, or muscular in origin) and that aims at progressively retraining for exertion, possibly with additional psychological support.

Educating the patient on how to gradually resume their daily activities, monitoring the course of cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal function, and reassuring them about their recovery possibilities are extremely important interventions that can be carried out on an outpatient basis.

The methods used for these individualized plans for resuming physical and psychological activity are very similar to those used in the treatment of disabling chronic respiratory diseases and musculoskeletal pathologies.

At MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” the respiratory rehabilitation pathway is offered by a team of professionals composed of diverse profiles:

Pierluigi Paggiaro, Professor at the University of Pisa specializing in Respiratory Diseases; Antonella Di Franco, Respiratory Specialist (ASL Nord Ovest); Romina Vargiu, Rehabilitation Therapist specialized in the cardiorespiratory field; Valentina Bessi, Psychologist, with experience in chronic diseases, including respiratory ones;

The team follows a multidisciplinary approach, combining integrated medical and nursing care, pharmacological therapy, rehabilitative therapy, psycho-nutritional support, behavioral norms, and educational programs aimed at helping patients control symptoms and improve their activities day by day.

For rehabilitation activities, patients at MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini” have access to physiotherapy clinics equipped with state-of-the-art instruments, a gym equipped with specific equipment, and a pool suitable for individuals who need to exercise with partial or complete reduction of body weight.

For more information or to book a visit to start a post-COVID rehabilitation pathway, you can write to info@minihospital.it, call 0587609134, or fill out the form on this page.

 

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