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Aquatic Therapy Can Do Wonders In Reducing Post-COVID Symptoms

Many patients experience fatigue for several weeks and even months post recovery.

Many patients experience weakness, fatigue, pain, and breathing issues for several weeks and even months post recovery. Here's how Aquatic therapy may benefit patients with post-Covid symptoms.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : May 12, 2022 3:38 PM IST

The highly communicable new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, differs from other respiratory viruses in that human-to-human transmission may occur anywhere from 2 to 10 days before the individual becomes symptomatic with the disease that we all now know as COVID-19. The range of disease severity varies between asymptomatic infection and mild upper respiratory disorder through severe viral pneumonia with respiratory failure and even death. Current estimates are that approximately 5% of those affected will require treatment in intensive care units (ICUs), including ventilation and life support. Which means that majority of the population affected by Covid-19 become alright with treatment either at home or hospital wards. Various symptoms of Covid-19 include:

  1. Most common symptoms
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Tiredness
  1. Less common symptoms
  • Aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhoea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • A rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes
  1. Serious symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Loss of speech or movement

Post-COVID symptoms

People who have had COVID-19 show signs of debilitating fatigue, that may linger for several weeks and even months post recovery. Although tests no longer indicate they have the virus, most still suffer from symptoms of fatigue, and an intermittent cough for days, weeks, even months afterwards. Even those affected with mild symptoms are surprised by the slow recovery to a "healthy" normal. SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) can affect the brain causing neuroinflammation of several systems throughout the body, resulting in chronic fatigue.

As physical therapy Professionals we have many challenges before us, especially in post COVID-19 pandemic recovery. Working with and coaching those in differing stages of recovery require precise knowledge and expertise of the condition and the Rehabilitation process. Physical therapy can help those with decreased strength and assist them to begin to move more, gradually building up their stamina. According to a 2020 study, physical therapy for those recovering from COVID-19 aims to:

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  1. Restore function of the muscles
  2. Restore the functional breathing capacity
  3. Reduce the likelihood of mental health conditions that may occur as a result of limited mobility
  4. Enable people to return to their normal lives

In this process we as Aquatic Therapists have found wonders in treating patients with post Covid-19 symptoms of fatigue, breathing issues, malaise, etc. Physical therapists are now being encouraged to include hydrotherapy in all forms of rehabilitation, making the most of the physical properties of water such as mass, weight, density, specific gravity, buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, surface tension, refraction, and viscosity.

How Aquatic therapy helps reduce post-COVID symptoms

A few of the benefits of practising Aquatic therapy in post Covid-19 recovery include:

  1. Water offers a natural resistance to the body movements and chest expansion due to its property of viscosity. This allows the process of strengthening of the breathing muscles and other limb and trunk muscles to become faster.
  2. The property of buoyancy and fluidity makes the movements very easy and seamless
  3. The constant hydrostatic pressure of water on the body helps in aiding the circulation
  4. The use of an aquatic setting allows patients with mobility, balance, or both problems on land to have the opportunity of experiencing the ability to move more freely and independently.
  5. The buoyancy also allows one to feel weightless inside water since water takes up the body weight and hence mobility improves and the effect of gravity and resistance on the body movements reduce.

The use of rehabilitation practices in water has been progressively increasing due to the publication of favourable results achieved using the physical properties of water. In a recent 2020 article by Cuesta-Vargas and colleagues concluded that trunk muscles played a much more significant role in executing functional tasks in water than on land. The importance of the trunk in the execution of gait, posture has been well documented. Therefore, the effect of water immersion on the trunk represents a clinically significant modality when considering the importance of hydrotherapy in post Covid-19 Rehabilitation. Water can therefore provide a safe and effective rehabilitation setting for patients with weakness, fatigue, pain, breathing issues post Covid-19 disease.

The article is written by Dr Dhwani Sanghvi, Orthopaedic Physiotherapist, AquaCentric Therapy Pvt Ltd.

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