‘It’s still pervasive’: The help for people struggling with ‘Long COVID’

Those who are still dealing with symptoms related to a COVID-19 infection have options available in Manitoba.

‘Long COVID’ happens when people previously infected with COVID-19 are still exhibiting symptoms such as fatigue, respiratory issues or brain fog for months following the initial infection. An estimated 1.4 million Canadians have said they had symptoms of COVID-19 at least three months after infection, according to Statistics Canada.

Now, the Misericordia Health Centre is offering help to people with its Easy Street program, which recently added Long COVID to its programs.

“The majority of people that I see continued to suffer from brain fog or cognitive changes as a result of having long COVID, and their activity tolerance significantly impacts their ability to participate in everyday activities,” said Esther Hawn, an occupational therapist with Easy Street.

“So that could be anything from getting themselves washed up and dressed, down to making meals, childcare, return to work, anything that you need to do and want to do in your day may be impacted by having symptoms related to COVID-19.”

Those attending Easy Street get some help to live their lives while dealing with Long COVID.

“Our patients come in mostly with lung changes on either imaging or oxygen needs after having a COVID infection,” Curtis Humeniuk, a physiotherapist with the program, said. “So we help people learn how to breathe better with exercises, we help people with pacing strategies, things of that nature.”

He added, “Obviously it’s a slow transition, it takes a lot of time, but it is helping people.”

Hawn says the centre has been surprised at the significant impact of Long COVID.

“I’m not sure we knew or were ready to see what was going to happen with COVID-19,” she said. “So you know, just this week, we were triaging our new referrals and the majority of them were still for long COVID. So it’s still pervasive. It’s still an issue for many people that are living in the community.”

More info on Long COVID resources can be found here.


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