NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Patients are celebrating going home after winning the tough battle against the deadly coronavirus.
Surviving though, is just the start for many.
Doctors warn that recovery is likely more challenging for those treated in the intensive care unit.
“Some people will find that they are weaker, that they have trouble just going up a few steps to their house. Some people will have trouble thinking clearly, others will suffer from PTSD,” says Dr. Lauren Ferrante, who is a pulmonary and critical care physician with Yale Medicine.
Most at risk for a tough road ahead she says are people who had a tough time functioning before being in the ICU.
‘We are all worried that we are going to see much more of this in the coming weeks to months.”
ICU patients typically get physical therapy while in the hospital.
“But right now with COVID, that’s not happening as much as it used to before because the virus is very infectious. We have to be very careful who is going in and out of the room.”
Dr. Ferrante is the lead investigator of a study, though not COVID specific, to help patients recover after the ICU.
“We found that how many days you were in the hospital is also important. So the longer you are in the hospital, the more likely you are to need help in recovery after discharge from the intensive care unit.”
Early rehab is key to recovering.
Be sure to talk to a primary care doctor she says, who can recommend specialty care.
“Really what helps the most is time and many people will see an improvement over time but not everyone gets back to where they were before.”
A physical therapist, a behavioral health expert, likely what the primary care physician will recommend.
Dr. Ferrante says that about half of patients will recover by six months after their ICU stay.