Meet Maria: Impacted by long covid
Maria is a 38 year old married mother of two teen-aged children. She works part-time as a bank teller. She contracted a COVID-19 infection at a family event and initial symptoms included headaches, fever, sore throat, and loss of sense of smell and taste. These symptoms mostly resolved after one week, but she was left with some other symptoms that fluctuated but persisted. Four months later she presented to her family doctor with complaints of joint pain, sleep disturbances, depression, and shortness of breath. She also reported having difficulty thinking, and feeling exhausted with even minimal amounts of activity (post activity fatigue ). She was unable to return to work, struggling with basic household chores and withdrawing from all social activities.
Her family doctor directed Maria to several services, including the SAOT Find an OT website to help find an OT who could provide in-home services and skills that might reduce the impact of her Long COVID symptoms. The family doctor was aware that OT services for individuals with long COVID symptoms were available through Alberta Health Services Long COVID clinics, Home Care, etc. and through a fee for service OT. At that time, Maria felt that private OT was the best option for her and she could get help sooner. She used her extended health care benefits through her employer to help fund private OT services.
How Occupational Therapy assisted Maria.
OTs meet individuals wherever they are. This can mean home visits with personal protective equipment, but phone calls and virtual visits are also available in cases where it is preferred or more convenient for the client (e.g. rural communities).
With Maria’s consent, OT:
- Met with her in her home and took a collaborative and problem-solving approach, to explore Maria’s functional goals and challe
- Provided education on activity pacing, and helped her understand the balance between activity and managing Long COVID symptoms .
- Collaborated on the development of a gradual walking program consistent with her ability and discussed strategies to make it a positive activity for Maria.
- Provided strategies to manage her brain fog, including the use of easy to access items and aids.
- Provided suggestions and resources to improve sleep quality and quantity
Outcome for Maria:
- Maria reported an increased sense of control, and her symptoms became more stable, her lifestyle more predictable.
- Through the use of planning aids and pacing strategies, she was able to keep a more regular daily routine and learned to live her life according to a plan rather than always reacting to her symptoms.
- She was able to slowly increase her walking tolerance. The outdoor walks, physical exercise, and opportunity to connect with a walking friend resulted in improved mood and energy levels.
- Sleep improved such that she was able to reduce the amount of time during the day she spent napping.
She eventually felt ready to consider a graduated return to work at the bank. The OT facilitated discussions with her employer to provide recommendations to facilitate a positive experience for Maria, her co-workers and her employer.