Physical Therapy for PASC or “Long COVID”
Most people fully recover from COVID-19. For some survivors though, symptoms of the disease may linger for many weeks or months beyond what is considered the “normal” timeline for recovery.
These people have been called COVID “long-haulers,” which has led to the terms “long COVID-19” or simply “long COVID.”
As research continues, the condition is now being referred to as PASC, which stands for Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2.
Let’s break that down:
- Acute care is critical treatment for a severe illness or condition. “Post-acute” refers to the phase after that and includes when someone returns home after being cared for in a hospital or rehabilitation center.
- Sequalae are the side effects or consequences of a previous disease or injury.
- SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.
In simple terms, PASC refers to the lingering symptoms of COVID-19 that “long-haulers” are facing. Symptoms, and their severity, vary from person to person.
Those symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Depression or anxiety.
- Fast or pounding heartbeat.
- Memory issues.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Poor endurance.
If you have symptoms of long-COVID, contact your primary care doctor. Long-COVID could involve other health complications that require labs, tests, or imaging, before being referred to a physical therapist who will design an exercise treatment plan specific to your condition.
Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can help COVID-19 long-haulers by treating the effects of PASC. Movement is essential to your recovery. The goal of physical therapy is to improve your strength, stamina, and quality of life through prescribed movement and exercise.
You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To locate a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
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Reviewed by James M. Smith, PT, DPT.