With nearly 30 million confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 in the U.S., countless people are still suffering from the long-term effects of the disease. While most people recover with no long-term health effects, around 10% develop additional symptoms later on in the recovery process. These individuals are known as long-haulers, and many of them are facing challenges brought on by the disease, especially as they return to work.
Inspired by our mission to be a catalyst of change in the healthcare marketplace, ARC Physical Therapy+ is now offering a Post-COVID Recovery Program aimed at targeting the issues that prevent patients from returning to physically demanding jobs.
“We’ve had multiple employer partners identify this as a need in their workforce,” Scott Jones, ARC Physical Therapy+ Partner said. “Employees are returning to work after suffering from COVID-19 with some lingering symptoms. There isn’t a great solution to prepare them for the demands of their job or ensure a safe return from quarantine.”
The Long-Term Health Effects of COVID-19
The long-term health effects related to COVID-19 remain largely unknown, but chronic symptoms that have been reported include:
- Lingering fatigue and exhaustion
- Physical issues like body aches, shortness of breath, chest pain, trouble sleeping, and headaches
- Brain fog such as memory loss, trouble finding words, concentration issues, and being overwhelmed by simple tasks
- Physical deconditioning
- Chest pain or tightness that is exacerbated with exercise or exertion
- Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
Back to Work After COVID-19
Studies show the workers who are at the greatest risk of contracting coronavirus include:
- Healthcare workers
- Teachers and childcare workers
- Those in high-population-density work environments
- Flight attendants
- Bus drivers
- Fire fighters
- Correctional officers
In other words, our essential workers are most likely to be impacted. And many of them are returning to the full demands of their job, without fully realizing the effect the virus still has on them. This, along with the fact that some patients have been shown to develop symptoms later on in the recovery process, could put them at risk for a serious injury (for example when working with heavy machinery, or working in a position requiring constant standing, walking or other high-level physical activity).
While it is yet to be determined which infections, and how infections, are determined to be work-related, we expect to see more COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims in the future, especially from healthcare workers.
About The Post-COVID Recovery Program
Our Post-COVID Recovery Program is similar to our well-established STRIVE Work Conditioning program, but with slight modifications tailored to meet the needs of this demographic.
In the STRIVE Work Conditioning program, the highly trained team of therapists at ARC Physical Therapy+ work with patients on all aspects of their strength and endurance—not just rehabbing the injury. It is a functional return to work program that meets patients where they are and progresses them as they build up a greater tolerance, gradually encompassing all components of the job.
The Post-COVID Recovery Program builds on these exercise science principles to protect the patient as they recover from the disease, while recognizing the additional and complex challenges of lingering COVID-19 symptoms.
With this program, we:
- Complete a thorough musculoskeletal assessment and identify baseline pulmonary function
- Assess and monitor response to activity, exercise and exertion
- Monitor pulmonary function and symptoms
- Monitor cardiovascular exercise response including heart rate at rest, during exercise, and recovery
- Identify and address any strength or endurance deficits required for their job, utilizing the patient’s own unique and specific job requirements to customize the treatment plan
- Gather and document additional observations that can be provided to our medical partners to allow them to make informed return to work decisions
Patients start with a 1-hour session and gradually increase duration under the guidance of a physical therapist.
The goal of the program is for patients to see:
- improved stamina and endurance
- improved body mechanics
- more confidence in their ability to return to work
- the ability to safely meet their job demands
The program is appropriate for patients working through a workers’ compensation claim as well as those using commercial insurance or self-pay.
Understanding the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19
Despite reaching the one-year “anniversary” of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, there is still much we don’t know about the virus and its effects.
More research on long-haulers is required to better understand how to most effectively treat the persistent symptoms. As physical and occupational therapists specializing in workers’ compensation, we are motivated to understand those impacts to ensure our therapy is safe and effective for the changing needs of patients and referral source populations.
And, we don’t just want to address the challenge we face today, we want to learn from this experience should this need continue to be relevant or should similar challenges arise in the future. Throughout this process, the ARC Physical Therapy+ team will collect data and continue to evaluate how best to support the evolving needs of our community.
Learn More About the Post-COVID Recovery Program
The Post-COVID Recovery program is ideal for those in the workers’ compensation and the commercial health insurance space. To learn more about the program and the impact it can have on you or your workforce contact ARC Physical Therapy+ at firstname.lastname@example.org or 844-755-4272.