Posted on 3rd July 2020 by Fiona
We’re staring to see (albeit online only if appropriate), a number of people who have had and are recovering from Coronavirus.
It certainly seems to have a really significant impact on people longer term, even those who may have had milder symptoms. We’ve put together some useful tips and advice, to help you be realistic about and optimise your recovery.
Why is rehabilitation important?
While you are recovering, focusing on taking some time for your recovery and rehabilitation is really important. Rehabilitation will improve your exercise tolerance, muscle strength and help manage any breathlessness and fatigue.
You should focus on breathing, functional and physical exercises. Here at goPhysio, we can help guide you on the best types of exercises either through our online service or face to face, if it’s appropriate. We will help to put together a rehabilitation programme that is tailored exactly to you and where you are and where you want to be.
Making sure you’re suitably hydrated and nourished play a really important role in your body’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 virus. Eating well (together with the exercises) will help to rebuild your muscle strength and function.
REHABILITATION: The action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy.
What can I do to help myself?
Making sure you resume some ‘normality’ and routine is a great way to boost your recovery. Here’s a few tips:
- Get up at a normal hour
- Try and restart a regular morning routine e.g. wash, brush teeth, get dressed
- Sit in a chair for meals
- Follow advice on eating and drinking well
- Think about keeping an exercise and activity diary
Why do I feel breathless?
Breathlessness is a very common symptom in some people with COVID-19. The lungs can become inflamed and the effort of breathing can increase. You may be breathing quicker and shallower, however it is important to try and stay calm. Anxiety can increase your heart rate and make your breathing rate increase further. This should improve over time. You can try some breathing control exercises to help.
Breathing control – something to help you relax
- Get in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing
- Breathe in and out through your nose (or mouth if you are unable to do this)
- Try to breathe in for the count of one, and out for count of two, working towards a longer breath out than in, to slow your breathing rate down
- Notice areas of tension in the body and try to release this with each breath out
- Gradually try to make your breaths slower and deeper
You can try various positions if you[re feeling breathless, that you may find help ease the breathlessness. Try:
- Lying on your side, propped up with pillows with your knees bent a little
- Sit upright and lean forwards over a table onto some pillow and relax
- Stand and lean onto a windowsill or forwards onto a wall
Mobility & Exercise
Moving little and often will help with your breathing and get your muscles working again, easing stiffness, achey joints and improve your strength and flexibility. All of this will help you get back to doing the things you’ve missed. There are different levels of mobility you should slowly work towards.
- Sitting on the edge of your bed
- Standing up from sitting
- Getting out of your bed and sitting in a chair
- Walk within a small space
- Walk around your home
- Walk around your garden
- Climb stairs or steps
- Getting outside
It is really important to do some regular exercises that will help with:
- Building up your muscle strength
- Improving your muscle flexibility
- Working on exercise stamina and endurance
- Regaining balance
- Improving functional activities
Exercise Diary: you may find using an exercise diary helpful. You can track your exercises and score how hard you are working using the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE Chart).
As you progress, you can increase the number of repetitions of exercises you are doing and increase the number of exercise sessions each day. Exercises should feel ‘light’ to between ‘somewhat hard’ and ‘hard’ (RPE 3 – 5), and your breathing should allow you to maintain uninterrupted conversation throughout.
“Little and often” is the best approach.
You may notice that your energy levels are low and and that doing simple daily activities suddenly feel like you’re doing a marathon. Fatigue is a common symptom of COVID-19. Although rest is important in recovery, unlike normal tiredness it does not improve with rest alone.
Feelings of fatigue can be made worse if you’re still experiencing episodes of breathlessness, muscle de-conditioning from having spent long periods inactive and in bed and also from stress that you may be feeling after a period of illness.
What can I do about fatigue? Fatigue can make managing your usual daily tasks more difficult. All daily tasks require the body to use energy through moving and thinking. Fatigue management can help you to understand how to make the most of your body’s available energy. This can help you to find ways to balance your physical, social and emotional needs when your energy levels are reduced.
Rating your fatigue from 1-10 will help you identify patterns of fatigue. You can discuss this with your Occupational Therapist who will support you to identify strategies to manage your fatigue.
Completing a fatigue diary and rating your fatigue before and after an activity (e.g. having a wash and dressing) can help you to understand how different activities can affect your energy levels.
How to use a fatigue diary
- Start at the beginning of each day
- Write down each activity including rest period you havetaken in each three hour interval
- Use a scale of 0 – 10 (0 = no fatigue, 10 = extreme fatigue) to score how you felt at the end of this three hour period
- Record any other factors you feel are relevant e.g. stressful events, skipping meals, over-exertion
- Use the diary to track your progress and work out any patterns and record how you’re progressing
If you need any support or help, we are here for you. Our range of skills and services, with both online and face to face options, provides a host of ways to support your recovery.
The best place to start would be on online or face to face assessment with one of our Physio’s so we can establish where you are in your recovery journey, find out what your goals are and put together a realistic and gradual way for you to achieve this.
Our support can include a specific and progressive exercise programme, which we can monitor and develop as you recover, ways to help any areas of pain, discomfort, stiffness or tension, advice on pacing and returning to work, hobbies and sport, whatever it is you’d like to do.
Just call us on 023 8025 3317 to find out more and boost your recovery.