CHICAGO (CBS) — We routinely see celebrations for recovered COVID-19 patients leaving the hospital; cheering, music, and balloons. But the party is often over when the person gets home.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory went inside a physical therapy session for a slice of life after the virus.
Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers clinical director Keith Travers said, as the U.S. population ages, comes an age-old problem.
“We have a lot of people who fall,” he said.
That’s why the therapists at the Fyzical Lincoln Park specialize in balance; guiding treatment literally one step at a time.
“The system of balance basically atrophies, just like the muscular system would,” he said.
Lately, patients aren’t just older; like 74-year-old Cynthia Fostle, some are recovering from COVID-19.
“Almost seven weeks that I wasn’t home,” Fostle said. “Even the doctors and nurses were surprised when I finally bounced back.”
It’s widely known that the respiratory virus hits cardiovascular systems especially hard. Oxygen levels are checked often during post-COVID physical therapy.
“We tend to see that their breathing technique seems to be off,” Travers said.
Extended time in the hospital for any issue wears on the body.
“Going up and down 2 ½ flights of stairs carrying laundry was really, really hard,” Fostle said.
Travers said strength, flexibility, and even the mind all are affected by lengthy hospital stays. Righting the ship hasn’t been easy for Fostle.
“I would just be falling over, grabbing things. So now my balance is much improved, and my endurance, and I can walk a lot faster,” she said.
Fostle feels lucky, and physical therapists applaud her, along with their two or three other post-COVID patients.
Travers said he worries about the near future. Besides getting sick, could the pandemic cause more people to fall?
“They’re staying at their house, so their sedentary life style that has significantly increased is going to make it a big challenge when they have to get back in the community, and suddenly that uneven surface seems a little scary for them,” he said.
Fostle said she has a lot more confidence since starting physical therapy. That’s the key; staying safe and staying active. Balance, in another sense.
A Fzyical tip to practice balance? Stand up then sit down in a chair 10 times over. Do two sets a day.