A.R. Gould offering long COVID Recovery Program
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - COVID-19 affects everyone differently. While some people make a complete recovery, others continue to experience lingering symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath. But as Sherry Karabin tells us, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital now has a program to help those with long COVID recover.
Aron Chalou, Long COVID patient, “I live in a small home and I could not walk across my kitchen without shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of visual field.”
43-year-old Presque Isle resident Aron Chalou is describing the symptoms she experienced with long COVID. Diagnosed with COVID-19 in July 2021, she was able to recover without being hospitalized, but continued to have severe disabling symptoms that left her unable to work, turning her life upside down...
Aron Chalou, Long COVID patient, “Activities of daily living like bathing, housekeeping, taking care of my children, preparing a meal were all incredibly difficult for me.”
As a registered nurse, Chalou didn’t hesitate to seek help...assistance which ultimately came from the very place where she’s employed Northern Light AR Gould Hospital. At the time, the healthcare facility was developing a multi-faceted long COVID recovery program, which includes physical, occupational and speech therapy. Chalou was the very first patient when she started last fall, but she certainly wasn’t the last. In fact, since the program’s formal start in February, there’ve been more than a dozen others.
Rachel Emery, physical therapist, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, “We’ve had patients ranging from teen years into their 70s. I’d say more females but males and females, all different kinds of backgrounds, different levels of being vaccinated, unvaccinated, various levels of how severe their illness was initially.”
Patients are referred to the program by their primary care doctors, with symptoms ranging from fatigue, Tachycardia, dizziness to light headedness, depression and anxiety... because those with long COVID experience extreme fatigue or crash if they overdo it, they don’t undergo traditional recovery regimens.
Rachel Emery, physical therapist, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital Long COVID Recovery Program, “Patients with joint replacement or strokes, the premise before has been that we kind of push, we kind of push you get to a point where oh that was pretty good that’s try and do one more, two more to kind of get that progress. in long COVID it’s kind of the opposite, it’s finding where your max activity is before a crash were to occur and then staying a step or two below it and maintaining that limited activity level until you’re able to tolerate that and kind of push that feeling up a little bit higher as you go on.”
Aron Chalou, Long COVID patient, “Initially with physical therapy my treatment was very slow or mild in that I was unable to coordinate my breath with physical movement so evening breathing was difficult.”
Chalou also underwent speech therapy, where she worked on sequencing, memory and visual-spatial processing. At the time, she found it difficult to count by 7.
But as time went on, she saw incremental improvement...she graduated from the program at the end of May.... While she hasn’t returned to work just yet, she is confident she’ll be able to do so soon.
Aron Chalou, Long COVID patient, “I think I will probably always have some lingering impact from my initial COVID infection and I think it’s something that I’ll have to adjust to with life but my quality of life has improved significantly.”
In Presque Isle, Sherry Karabin News Source 8.
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