Healed but not healthy: Many people remain marked by Corona and suffer from long-term complaints, some of which are serious. In Berlin, a young long-Covid patient is now hoping for improvement. Your everyday rehab between scent samples and virtual reality glasses.
Body aches, flare-ups of fever under stress – and then there is this leaden fatigue: Even more than two years after her corona infection, Birgit S. is struggling with severe symptoms. “I haven’t been able to stand up properly since then,” she says.
For more and more people, the long-term health consequences are causing great suffering, frustration and, above all, helplessness, because knowledge about Long Covid remains incomplete. The 29-year-old Birgit S. is now looking for help in an inpatient neurological rehabilitation facility at the BG Klinikum Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin (ukb).
According to expert estimates, the woman is one of hundreds of thousands of people affected in Germany alone. Complaints that persist for more than four weeks after an infection are generally considered to be Long Covid – if they last longer than twelve weeks afterwards, they are considered Post Covid.
Surf tip: Late effects? – Long Covid and Post Covid: This is the difference
There is no uniform definition. According to experts, numerous symptoms are included – many are considered moderate, others can also severely restrict those affected in everyday life.
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In fact, long absenteeism among workers with Long Covid is not uncommon. According to data recently published by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), longer-lasting complaints after corona infections generally only account for a small proportion of job absences for the time being, but employees with long Covid are then absent for a long time.
Of employees who had received a corona diagnosis with a PCR test in 2020, almost one percent was on sick leave in 2021 with a diagnosis of Long Covid. Sick leave lasted an average of 105 days.
In addition, she feels constantly sick, has muscle pain, has difficulty concentrating and finding words and gets bad breath. The chief physician for neurology at the ukb, Ingo Schmehl, reports on more than 1000 long-Covid cases that he has dealt with at the clinic so far. Among them are all age groups of adults.
More than 200 symptoms are known – like S., he also mentions physical and mental exhaustion, so-called fatigue symptoms, reduced resilience, shortness of breath, cognitive impairment and smell and taste disorders. The disease must also be focused on in children and adolescents.
Diagnosis and therapy were carried out because of the large basket of symptoms as an interaction of various medical disciplines, therapists and nursing, explains Schmehl. “The physical and mental symptoms and their treatment are always of equal importance to us.” After all, the level of suffering is sometimes immense, also because one does not know how the disease will develop in each case.
This is not only fun, but with long-Covid therapy it also has the benefit that many physiotherapeutic and ergotherapeutic exercises are possible and motor skills, sensory skills and concentration can be trained at the same time, explains Schmehl. In this way, one can adapt to the patient individually.
Patience – this is necessary in the treatment of long-term corona complaints, says Schmehl. Nevertheless, he is cautiously confident about the future. Those affected would have a good chance of returning to work, particularly if diagnosis and therapy were carried out quickly and if they were fully vaccinated.
There is a consensus among experts on the assumption that vaccination protection generally clearly reduces the risk of long-term consequences after corona infection. However, the disease presents the healthcare system with a mammoth task. “We still have a huge mountain ahead of us. The more recent cases, I’m very optimistic. And with the others we try to do what is possible.”
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