In a previous Blog I referred to the creation of a New timeline of BC, (Before COVID), namely an event or injury that happened “Before COVID”. However nationally we now have the legacy condition of Long COVID which is an ever increasing and debilitating problem and one we at SAS are seeing in increasing numbers through our Wellness Service. This week alone I have had 3 referrals for Long COVID support, and we have helped at least 30 members of Teaching staff during the recent pandemic.
By definition Long COVID, is the continuation of symptoms beyond 12 weeks and can include any number of commonly seen symptoms including; Brain Fog, Chest pain, Fatigue, Joint and Muscle pain, Loss of taste / smell, erratic Heart rate, BP changes, Joint swelling , general lethargy, pain and post viral anxiety / depression.
Long COVID is already affecting many thousands in the UK and what is very evident from the research is that;
- 70-80 % of the people experiencing SEVERE acute reactions to Covid-19 are MEN.
- Whereas 70-80% of the people of Long COVID sufferers are Women
- The biggest group of Long COVID sufferers are Aged 40-60, are predominantly White, Females and with x2 pre-existing co-morbidities / health conditions ie Diabetes or Asthma
Causes of Long COVID
- Exact cause as yet unclear as research on going, with lots of hypothesis as it is a New Disease, with several theories developing.
- There appears to be a strong link between Systemic inflammation and a poor recovery from illness across the disease spectrum
- Strong suspicion that the body’s own autoantibodies could play a part with the immune system attacking the body itself, as in the case of Rheumatoid arthritis.
- It fits as autoimmunity where the body has that immune response to its own healthy cells and organs is more common in middle aged women.
- Other reasons could be lingering viral reservoirs or lingering fragments of the virus. This can be detected months post infection in the intestines of the survivor.
- These viral reservoirs may be a factor in other diseases ie ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis / Chronic fatigue syndrome / Fibromyalgia, which in many ways mirror Long COVID symptoms.
There has been the creation of a network of Long COVID centres, but these are not always easily accessible to all and here at SAS we have developed our own program to help tackle this debilitating condition. Anyone asking to access help via the SAS App or by contacting the Wellness team will be directed to our Lead Physiotherapist for an initial consultation and provision of a bespoke online exercise regime, to cover breathing control, posture and Upper and Lower limb exercises.
On reviewing then we are able to offer access to our In house personal trainers (Ed and Valusska) for ongoing 1-2 1 support, working to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation process. Inadvertently we have created our own “Long COVID service” but this time with national coverage!
Results have been very encouraging and very pleasing given the complexity of the condition and in many ways the programme has been evolved as we entered the unknown, but recent research has backed up our Exercise based approach, combined with Relaxation and Breathing control.
Most importantly we can provide the hope and reassurance that despite the very debilitating nature of this condition, there is a positive benefit to a careful tailored program and that SAS will be there to support clients though that process.
SAS Physiotherapist Mike is available for support through SAS Wellbeing. Staff insured on SAS policies can contact 01773 814 403 to learn more or to access a referral.