Here’s how a Chicago rehab hospital is treating COVID ‘long-haulers’




, Here’s how a Chicago rehab hospital is treating COVID ‘long-haulers’

Because it grew to become clear that some COVID-19 survivors started to face a novel, troublesome path to restoration, physicians at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab rehabilitation hospital in Chicago knew that they needed to take motion, typically re-engineering complete well being care areas.

“Realizing sufferers had been spending weeks in a hospital mattress, on ventilators or usually put right into a susceptible place, I believed, ‘what occurs subsequent?’ and I wished to be concerned,” stated Dr. Leslie Rydberg, attending doctor on the rehabilitation hospital’s COVID Care Unit. “The very first thing we would have liked to determine is reconfigure our system to this illness, to a whole isolation unit.”

The issue is, isolating sufferers in acute care settings is not conducive to rehabilitation and “getting sufferers up and strolling,” stated Rydberg.

The Streeterville facility determined to dam off a wing on the 20th ground that features a full rehabilitation gymnasium along with affected person rooms.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention say a “extended sickness” because of COVID-19 is “frequent” in hospitalized adults, nevertheless it can also happen “even amongst individuals with milder outpatient sickness, together with younger adults.” These so-called COVID “long-haulers” face persistent signs and may expertise “extended absence from work, research, or different actions,” based on the CDC.

Rydberg stated the AbilityLab rehab unit confronted all kinds of illnesses, together with injury from tracheostomy tube placement, “extreme swallowing dysfunction requiring feeding tube placement; massive strain ulcers; important muscle weak spot and atrophy; massive quantities of weight reduction; gentle cognitive dysfunction; and extreme impairments in endurance.”

Given the wide selection of doable responses to COVID, the rehabilitation course of usually requires far more cross-collaboration amongst completely different disciplines within the facility. Whereas non-COVID sufferers usually come for one particular problem, the COVID unit needed to rework into a spot the place a wide range of staff members are concerned, given the myriad of how the virus impacts the physique, stated Shirley Ryan AbilityLab CEO Dr. Joanne C. Smith.

“They’re all issues we have seen in numerous settings, however having all of them in the identical unit introduced an enormous studying curve,” Rydberg added. “Addressing these challenges actually requires collaboration with your entire interdisciplinary rehabilitation staff.”

Among the many 150 sufferers who’ve already undergone intensive rehabilitation within the unit, many are “seeing important restoration and useful enchancment,” with others shifting out of inpatient care to outpatient settings. The 30-bed unit facility might be expanded and contracted as wanted.

Docs say that these “long-haulers” present that extra consideration needs to be paid to the long-term results of COVID-19 and the way it may rework approaches to medical care and analysis sooner or later.

“As an example, take COVID pneumonia,” Rydberg stated, referring to one of many potential issues of COVID-19. “Now, physiatrists are beginning to companion with pulmonologists within the outpatient setting to have a look at the long-term results of those infections and to see what position train and supervised remedy can play within the ongoing restoration course of.”

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s Chicago Enterprise.