COVID-19 patients face many obstacles after ICU stay

Hundreds of thousands of Americans may struggle with the physical and psychological effects of a long-term intensive care unit stay once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, reports The Washington Post.

A large volume of clinical evidence shows that many patients suffer long-term physical, mental and emotional issues after getting off a ventilator in the ICU. These challenges may include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or difficulty performing daily activities, such as eating or getting dressed.

COVID-19 patients in intensive care are extremely isolated from human interaction due to infection prevention measures, which can increase the risk of psychological issues. 

"We normally kneel at their bedside and hold their hand and ask them, ‘How are you’ and tell them, ‘It is my privilege to help you,'" E. Wesley Ely, MD, a professor at Nashville-based Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told the Post. "Instead, what they are getting is someone in spacesuit garb with very little time to spend with them."

The pandemic is also limiting COVID-19 patients' ability to access crucial rehabilitation services, including physical therapy and speech therapy, after they're discharged, further complicating their recovery. 

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