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Long COVID-19 rehabilitation: Richard’s story

Richard Bates is a passionate and energetic 61-year-old man who works in the graphic arts industry. After contracting COVID-19 in July 2020, Richard experienced long-term covid-19 symptoms. He attended Circle Health Group’s Rehabilitation Centre in Birmingham to recover with the specialist help of our multidisciplinary team. This is Richard’s story.

When Richard Bates arrived at Circle Health Group’s Rehabilitation Centre following his experience with COVID-19, he was still suffering from symptoms of breathlessness and fatigue. Despite being an active man before contracting COVID-19, Richard was now easily tired. He struggled with day-to-day activities, such as climbing the stairs and going for walks.

On July 19, 2020, Richard contracted COVID-19. His initial symptoms included chest pain and breathlessness. After calling an ambulance, paramedics were concerned that Richard had suffered a heart attack. After an ECG and a negative COVID-19 test, he was discharged from hospital on the same day.

Richard recalled: “When I got the okay from Cardiology to go home, I decided to go swimming. I used to be able to do 30 lengths, but now I could only manage 15 – I was in pieces.”

Richard’s exhaustion and breathlessness continued in the days following. He returned to hospital, where he received two COVID-19 tests. These were both negative. Richard had also started to experience heavy night sweats and difficulty sleeping. Toward the end of August, Richard had a COVID-19 antibody test, prompted by his continued symptoms. The results of this test determined that Richard was suffering from long-term symptoms of COVID-19.

He said: “I was trying to walk, couldn’t, and started to lose confidence in myself.”

Richard’s night sweats and fatigue continued.

Richard arrived at our rehabilitation centre to focus on accelerating his recovery. After an initial meeting that provided more insight into Richard’s needs, our Consultant-led team worked diligently to build a six-week support programme tailored to his needs. This primarily focused on improving Richard’s physical and respiratory health.

As our Senior MSK Physiotherapist, Artemios was responsible for teaching Richard a series of specialist exercises to strengthen his muscles and improve his breathing. These exercises involved the use of our Concept2 indoor rowing machine and specialist equipment, which strengthened Richard’s core and lower body. Artemios Lazaridis, Richard’s Senior MSK Physiotherapist, said: “My overall role with Richard involved working to improve his breathing capacity through the use of specific equipment and specialist techniques.”

Artemios was delighted to share Richard’s progress during his rehabilitation, noting that his breathing and muscle strength vastly improved with rehabilitation. He recalled: “Richard showed significant diligence with his home exercise regime and self-management advice, which helped him to obtain incremental improvements during his recovery journey.”

During his time with us, Richard was also supported by a dedicated, multidisciplinary team of experts in rehabilitative care. This included a specialist Consultant, nurses, healthcare assistants and doctors. He also underwent a specialist dietary consultation, which involved examining his diet and how to improve it. This, in turn, will improve Richard’s general health and wellbeing.

After six weeks, Richard completed his rehabilitation programme with greatly improved muscular and respiratory health. He now enjoys being more active with regular golf sessions and long walks. Artemios recommends that Richard continues to follow our advice and attend any necessary follow-up appointments.

Richard strongly recommends our rehabilitative services to anyone struggling with post COVID-19 symptoms.