How health officials are adapting to the discovery of COVID ‘long haulers’

Coronavirus

(WTNH) — An estimated 30 percent of COVID survivors suffer all kinds of physical and mental health problems long after recovering. They’re called “Long Haulers.” Now healthcare systems have special post COVID clinics as they try and help them return to their lives.

We’ve been following Vic Gara, a 57-year-old Connecticut man who has really been down in many ways since being hospitalized for COVID last March and April. Like so many doctors are seeing, COVID has after-effects that wreak havoc on people’s bodies and lives long after the illness.

Gara was the first person ever released from Gaylord Specialty Healthcare. At one point, he was on a ventilator for eleven days. Today, he’s still suffering.

“It’s been a long ride, mentally physically. It’s been a challenge,” he said.

News 8 followed Vic’s journey including some of his physical rehabilitation in 2020. He tried to return to work, but fatigue and depression overwhelmed him.

“Somewhere around mid-August I started having severe…. there’s the brainfog.”

Vic didn’t realize his psychological issues were related to COVID until he got invited a post-COVID recovery group through Gaylord.

“It’s a great venue to have a safe place to vent and to share your road to recovery.”

Gaylord Neuropsychologist Dr. Jonathan Woodhouse treats COVID long haulers with post-traumatic stress and stress. He wants people to know that there are emerging treatment options for the psychological and cognitive aspects of recovering from COVID.

“The uncertainty of all this is really part of the stress are they going to get infected again. Can they take the vaccine?” says Dr. Jonathan Woodhouse.

He is seeing therapies that work, if people seek help.

‘There are actually adaptive coping skills like excercise, like seeking social support like the Zoom group that Vic’s a part of, taking care of ourselves, being active,” Dr. Woodhouse continues.

The toughest cases are those like Vic’s who had respiratory distress. And doctors are also seeing younger patients with long-haul symptoms. Children’s hospitals around the country are now setting up COVID long-haul clinics,

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