Specialized program at TIRR Memorial Hermann helps COVID-19 patients recover

Most patients who survive COVID-19 after being treated in ICU, need to undergo rehabilitation to get their mobility back.

TIRR Memorial Hermann has created a program specifically designed to help these patients.

"Unfortunately, you have to manage the initial condition, but they can develop many complications afterwards, and we're seeing this with COVID-19 pneumonia, which we really realize is much more than just an entry to the lungs. It's entering really all of our organ systems, and so with that it can damage our muscles and our nerves, and we're really even seeing brain damage from that, and so that's where we're really working on the rehabilitation side to address those issues," explains Dr. Jacob Joseph, Attending Physician with TIRR Memorial Hermann and UTHealth.

Dr. Joseph says the needs are different for each patient, including how long it takes them to get back on their feet.

"We create a customized rehabilitation program for every patient as to what their needs are. Some people are less severely affected, and so if they do need to come to rehabilitation, their state can be on the shorter side which is really maybe around a week, but sometimes it can be much more severe deficits and those times, they can be even in rehabilitation for about a month. Even then, it's just beginning on inpatient rehabilitation and so usually people need to go to the home setting and they need to continue rehabilitation in our outpatient therapy centers,” Dr. Joseph says.

"Being critically ill can put them in a state of stress on the body, and we can see people have injuries, separate to their nerves and their muscles causing significant weakness, significant problems with pain. As I mentioned before, it can affect the brain, and so it can affect people's thinking and their memory. These are just devastating to people and they're not able to just go home and be independent, and so what we are working on here at Memorial Hermann is to regain their independence with the assistance of those therapists and a large medical team," states Dr. Joseph. 

Patients come here from all over the world to be treated. TIRR Memorial Hermann says their breakthroughs are evidence-based interventions that allow patients to go beyond the clinical setting. The goal is to help patients achieve and maintain a maximum level of independent functioning and improved quality of life after COVID-19.

For more information at http://tirr.memorialhermann.org/programs-specialties/covid-rehab/