We’re really excited to have had the opportunity to share our knowledge with our physiotherapy colleagues through an article in Frontline, the monthly magazine sent to approximately 59,000 members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK. The issue was published on 1 June 2020 and our piece can be read here.
The article outlines that people who have had Covid-19 are reporting that one of the most prevalent ongoing problems is fatigue and that for some this fatigue is long lasting. Based on previous research related to post viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), up to 10% of people recovering from COVID-19 could develop.
We’ve put together some guidance to help physios identify whether patients post Covid-19 have symptoms of PVFS, which can be read here. Swift identification of PVFS is really important as standard rehabilitation approaches might be detrimental for this group.
Key management techniques for PVFS include prioritisation of rest, sleep and nutrition and aiming to conserve energy and avoid symptom flare through a symptom contingent approach to activity management (for both mental and physical activity). You can read more about this approach here.
For more general information on post viral fatigue syndrome, we recommend the ME Association’s leaflet.
If PVFS symptoms do not resolve by four to five months this could then be diagnosed as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). Physiotherapists should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of ME with the main symptom being post-exertional malaise (PEM) and know the appropriate treatment strategies. We’ve compiled a selection of resources for physios which can be found here.
A key challenge for physios working with post covid-19 patients is to identify those who may have symptoms of PFVS/ME and to adapt their therapeutic approach accordingly. Progressive physiotherapy can be harmful to this cohort as people with ME have abnormal responses to exercise including: a lower anaerobic threshold, lower maximum oxygen capacity, increased acidosis and abnormal cardiovascular responses.
Appropriate management strategies are linked to our resource page, which we endeavour to keep updated.
We're so pleased to get this important information out to our profession, and welcome any comments or feedback from our colleagues.