NewsHelping people with long covid get back into everyday...

Helping people with long covid get back into everyday life

After a Covid 19 illness, many people have to struggle to find their way back to life. Rehabilitation can help. The German pension insurance is already expecting more applications.

Mainz – The triathlete who gets out of breath after a few meters, the young marathon runner who only manages a few kilometers – even numerous people without previous illnesses have to recapture their everyday lives after a Covid 19 disease. Rehabilitation can help.

“We are already registering rehab applications due to Long Covid,” says Hans-Georg Arnold, spokesman for the German Pension Insurance (DRV) Rhineland-Palatinate. However, these have not yet reached a relevant order of magnitude. For those in gainful employment, rehabilitation is generally financed by the DRV, which, according to its own information, is the largest rehabilitation provider. For the coming months, however, Arnold expects an increase in the number of applications from the second and third waves of the corona pandemic.

In the second quarter of this year, doctors in Rhineland-Palatinate diagnosed 5434 legally insured persons with a so-called post-Covid-19 condition after surviving an infection. In the first quarter there were 4269 patients, as announced by the Rhineland-Palatinate Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. How many people currently suffer from Long Covid in Rhineland-Palatinate is unclear. The data situation is difficult.

There is currently no official definition of post-Covid disease; the terms post and long covid are often used synonymously. According to a diagnostic guideline published in mid-July, up to 15 percent of all Covid 19 sufferers are affected by post-Covid syndrome. This means that you have symptoms of various kinds, such as shortness of breath, dizziness or difficulty concentrating, that have lasted for more than three months. One speaks of long covid if new symptoms appear after an infection has been overcome or if these persist for more than four weeks. There are studies that indicate an even higher proportion of patients with long-term consequences.

According to the experts, the post-Covid syndron occurs more frequently among inpatients. Initially, physical ailments such as shortness of breath and heart problems dominated, says Dr. Matthias Rudolph, Medical Director of the Middle Rhine Clinic in Bad Salzig. Those affected would then often come to a pulmonary clinic. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the Hufeland Clinic in Bad Ems specializes in this.

With Long Covid, the symptoms are very broad and, according to Rudolph, range from a breakdown of muscles and chronic fatigue to memory and concentration disorders or psychological complaints such as depression and anxiety disorders. Rudolph has developed a special program for psychosomatic rehabilitation for the Middle Rhine Clinic. In addition, two other rehabilitation clinics of the German Pension Insurance in Bad Kreuznach and in Bruchweiler near Idar-Oberstein Long offer Covid treatments. In addition, according to the section of spas and health resorts of the Rhineland-Palatinate Tourism and Spas Association, there are offers in Bernkastel-Kues, Bad Ems, Bad Dürkheim, Manderscheid and Bad Bergzabern.

“Rehabilitation is very individual,” says Rudolph. Not everyone would get respiratory therapy or respiratory muscle training, explains the specialist in psychosomatic medicine, who has treated around 40 Long Covid patients in his clinic since February of this year. Many of the 30 to 50 year olds benefited from endurance and strength training, relaxation or attention training, and psychological therapy.

There is currently no treatment recommendation, says Dr. Wolfgang Neumeister, chief physician at the Hufeland Clinic. Treatment is based on the leading symptom. It is important not to burden people too much, otherwise they will be completely exhausted and will no longer be able to take part in the rehab. Some of his patients in early rehab would have to learn again to hold a knife or how to use scissors. As Neumeister indicates, there have been well over 1,000 patients in the Hufeland Clinic since the beginning of the pandemic. The house was not closed during the initial lockdown either.

“We have fit people here without previous illnesses, some of them also athletes,” reports Rudolph. It is still not at all clear why this group of relatively young people in particular is so severely affected by Post and Long Covid and how long the patients will have to reckon with complaints.

Some of them had a very mild course of the disease and at most complained of a little fever and loss of taste, explains Neumeister. However, six to eight weeks after the Covid 19 illness, they would have massive problems. During physical exertion, for example, the oxygen content in these people decreases significantly instead of increasing.

The insured person applies for rehab themselves, and the attending physician issues a corresponding report. “Applicants have the right to wish and choose where they start their rehab,” emphasizes Rudolph.

Those who come home after rehabilitation can use the aftercare offer of the German pension insurance for 6 to 12 months. According to Rudolph, this ranges from orthopedic to psychotherapeutic treatments or nutritional advice. “It is important to continue what has been learned in-patient on an outpatient basis,” says Neumeister. dpa

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