The National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) yesterday said there are seven main aftereffects of severe COVID-19, so the hospital is establishing a specialized COVID-19 long-term follow-up integrated care outpatient clinic to help patients recover through rehabilitation.
More than 16,000 cases have been reported in Taiwan, with more than 90 percent of patients released from isolation, but studies have shown that some patients still suffer from post-acute aftereffects of COVID-19.
NTUH vice superintendent Kao Jia-horng (高嘉宏) said studies have shown that there are more than 50 types of COVID-19 sequelae, or aftereffects, and the hospital has identified seven main types of sequelae in patients with severe COVID-19.
Photo: Chiu Chih-ju, Taipei Times
The seven main sequelae are lung damage, physical decline and muscle weakness, verbal communication impairment, delirium and cognitive impairment, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), anxiety and depression, as well as an inability to perform daily activities, he said.
NTUH Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation attending physician Liang Huey-wen (梁蕙雯) said that SARS-CoV-2 not only attacks the lungs, but also affects the nervous system and immune system, as well as causing abnormal blood clotting and brain inflammation.
Citing a case of a COVID-19 patient who lost 10kg during hospitalization and had trouble regaining weight after being discharged, Liang said severe COVID-19 patients who have been bedridden for long periods might also suffer from muscle weakness and loss of bone mass.
She said foreign studies showed that some patients suffer shortness of breath and exercise intolerance after COVID-19, but can improve through cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, but patients with severe complications might need integrated rehabilitation services.
NTUH Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation director Chen Wen-shiang (陳文翔) said that the department’s medical team includes physical therapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists, and five post-severe COVID-19 patients are receiving customized rehabilitation programs and have shown improvement after two to four weeks.
People can book an appointment at the COVID-19 long-term follow-up integrated care outpatient clinic through the hospital’s online booking system, Kao said, adding that patients who had been treated at NTUH would have their previous attending physician assist in their diagnosis and assess if they need further rehabilitation.
Additional reporting by CNA
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