Hospital of Hope physiotherapists help COVID-19 patients recover
At the Brackengate Hospital of Hope Intermediate Care Facility (ICF), physiotherapists play an important role in the recovery of many COVID-19 patients. Brackengate physiotherapist Helanie Pool says her team aims to ensure that COVID-19 patients can resume everyday activities after receiving treatment.
“Improving physical function is helping patients in being as functional as possible so that they’re able to get dressed, eat, and wash themselves by the time they go home. Quality of life entails helping them to participate in activities within their communities, families and the workplaces,” explains Helanie.
Some patients who’ve had the Coronavirus needed further care and may have suffered from severe muscle weakness, joint stiffness and fatigue. “Addressing individual needs and consequences of COVID-19 includes, but is not limited to, recovery from long-term ventilation, supplemental oxygen requirements resulting in respiratory impairment and immobilisation, along with addressing consequences of pre-existing conditions and co-morbidities,” says Helanie.
Physiotherapists have provided a range of services to patients with each session being unique. These services include:
- Improving exercise tolerance: This entails cardiovascular exercise training in various forms from lower functioning individuals to those who were previously active individuals.
- Respiratory rehabilitation: This includes breathing exercises, thoracic mobility exercises and proning activities.
- Mobility activities: These activities assist patients with moving in and out of bed and walking or returning to their previous level of activity.
- Physical rehabilitation: This involves improving muscle strength through a range of motion exercises.
Helanie says exercise helps to strengthen patients. Benefits of regular exercise include immune regulation, reducing the risk of illness, improved fitness, reducing breathlessness, increasing muscle strength, improved balance, coordination, and concentration, as well as reducing stress and improving mood.
During National Physiotherapy week in September, Brackengate healthcare staff went the extra mile to plan information sessions and a fun walk, under the themes, ‘Rehabilitation after COVID-19’ and ‘Combating COVID-19 with good health’.
Information sessions addressed the benefits of healthy eating for patients and staff, as well the benefits of exercise to relieve stress.
“We chose to do so as to incorporate not only patient recovery from COVID-19 but also to add a staff welfare component. Including exercise, healthy eating habits and mental and emotional wellbeing of particularly healthcare staff working in COVID-19,” explains Helanie.
She adds that their hope is to provide patients with knowledge to manage their healthcare needs outside of the hospital. “The overall aim of physiotherapy is to improve physical function and their quality of life.”
Brackengate is an inpatient intermediate care facility. Patients are referred from various hospitals within the Cape Metropole. These patients are then referred for physiotherapy by the physicians in charge of their care.