German clinics support COVID long-haul carriers


Heiligendamm, Germany (AP) — Simone Ravera rolls his pants, takes off his shoes and socks, and gently steps into the cold waters of the Baltic Sea.

A 50-year-old rheumatism nurse slowly finds her foot again after being attacked by COVID-19 last fall and appears to be recovering, with severe fatigue and “brain fog” four months later. It has recurred.

“The symptoms were almost as bad as they were at the beginning,” Ravera said.

She was on the verge of despair and found a clinic specializing in the treatment of people with symptoms called post-COVID-19 or long-term COVID-19.

Located in Heiligendamm, a seaside spa in northern Germany that has been popular since the late 18th century, this clinic specializes in helping people with lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and cancer.

Over the past year, it has become a major rehabilitation center for COVID-19 patients, treating 600 people from all over Germany, according to medical director Dr. Joerdis Frommhold.

Some of her patients are nearing death and now need to relearn how to breathe properly, rebuild their stamina, and overcome many neurological problems associated with severe illness.

However, Fromhold also treats a second group of patients who experience mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms and, if any, spend only a short period of time in the hospital.

“These patients show rebound symptoms after about 1 to 4 months,” says Frommhold.

Most are between the ages of 18 and 50, and there is no existing condition, she said. “They usually never get sick.”

After recovering from a COVID-19 attack, these patients suddenly became short of breath and found themselves depressed and struggling to concentrate, Frommhold said. Some people have symptoms similar to dementia.

A former dialysis nurse noticed that the kitchen was flooded because he had forgotten to turn off the faucet. “Some people can’t do their homework with their kids because they don’t understand the question themselves,” Fromhold said.

Their symptoms are not always taken seriously by doctors.

Despite suffering from hair loss, joint and muscle pain, irregular blood pressure and dizziness, regular test results for such patients usually return to normal.

“They look young, dynamic and high-performance, but they can’t do anything like they used to,” Fromhold said.

Clinic therapists initially focus on stabilizing the patient’s breathing. It then works to restore stamina and coordination with the help of occupational therapy and posture training. Cognitive therapy and psychological support are also part of the program.

Similar clinics for “long-haul carriers” have emerged around the world over the past year. Including the United States.. In Germany, such treatments are increasingly being offered by a network of more than 1,000 medical rehabilitation centers, 50 of which specialize in lung disease.

“It doesn’t exist in many other countries yet,” said Frommhold.

The number of people suffering from long-term COVID-19 is unknown, as the condition may not yet be clearly defined.Scientists are still trying to understand what’s behind Wide range of symptoms reported by patients..

Elizabeth Murray, a professor of e-health and primary care at the University College London, said:

“The symptoms they are experiencing this week are not necessarily a guide to the symptoms they will experience next week,” said Murray, a former general practitioner. “It will be difficult for everyone. It will be very, very difficult for the patient.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, in a survey of 9,063 respondents who tested positive for COVID-19, more than 20% reported persistence of some symptoms after 5 weeks. Approximately 10% of respondents, including malaise, reported headaches or loss of taste and smell.

To date, more than 140 million coronavirus infections have been identified worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which could affect millions of long-term COVID-19 patients. It suggests that there is.

“It’s a lot of extra people to treat, and the healthcare system doesn’t have a lot of reserve capacity,” Murray said. She added that the economic consequences of so many people dropping out of the workforce can be devastating, especially since many patients are women with disproportionate burdens at home.

Murray, funded by the British National Institutes of Health, treats long-term COVID-19 symptoms, reaches more patients faster than traditional rehab facilities, and doesn’t feel abandoned by the healthcare system We are developing a digital program to make it.

Frommhold said a similar program might help Germany cope with the expected surge in long-term COVID-19 patients, but also needs greater acceptance of the condition for those who do not fully recover. Suggested that.

“In my eyes, I first need a campaign like it was for HIV awareness, which explains that there are different paths even after recovering from COVID,” she said. ..

By making patients, their families, and employers understand that they are currently in a chronic condition, long-haul carriers can be prevented from falling into a spiral of depression and anxiety, Fromhold said.

Rish Heike, a 51-year-old kindergarten teacher in eastern Cottbus, was barely able to walk on his own when he was discharged after recovering from COVID-19.

“I felt like I was 30 in a short period of time,” she said.

At the clinic, Rish was unable to walk behind, balancing the table tennis ball with a racket. She still can’t read the clock correctly.

“You no longer trust your body. You no longer trust your head,” Rish said.

Still, she hopes to get back to work someday. “I like working with kids, but I need to be able to concentrate. Sometimes I need to be able to do two things at the same time,” she said.

Nurse Lavera has come a long way thanks to her treatment at Heiligendamm. I feel lucky to get support from my friends and family.

However, Labela suspects she will return to spending a three-shift weekend at a hospital where she worked in Bavaria.

“I don’t know when I’ll be fine again. Illness is on the waves,” he said.

Instead, Labela is considering using what she has learned in rehab to help others who are having difficulty breathing properly again after COVID-19.

“It’s a little journey to the unknown,” she said.

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