What a different world it has been since the winter of 2019 when COVID-19 abruptly began to change the way we approach our jobs, family life, and most aspects of our social interactions.
The virus alters certain functions such as cognitive, swallowing, and respiratory, even after a person recovers from the acute illness phase. Let’s dive into what changes some COVID patients have experienced and what therapies are available for improvement.
Cognitive Changes Post-COVID Infection
Scientists and medical professionals rapidly predicted many of the pulmonary complications highly associated with this novel disease. Still, steadily more recognition is being given to its impact on the brain and other body systems we rely on every day. Physicians and researchers tracking cases at Johhs Hopkins Medicine and other such centers worldwide see decreased cognition, weakened voice, and impaired swallowing in patients recovering from more severe cases of the disease.
Specifically, patients demonstrate decreased ability to focus, reduced recall of new information, and slowed reaction time. This is likely due to the lack of oxygen available to the patient’s brain since studies have shown COVID impacts lung function and therefore may alter the delivery of oxygen to vital organs such as the brain. A significant number of COVID patients have experienced stroke, seizure, and encephalitis during their COVID-related illness.
Communication and Swallowing Challenges Post-COVID Infection
Patients who required intubation and ventilation during their hospitalization from COVID reported changes in communication and swallowing. Long periods on a ventilator can impact the vocal cords and the function of swallowing which could lead to additional challenges in speaking and swallowing.
Speech Therapy Benefits for Post-COVID Infection Patients
Speech-language pathologists are professionals specifically trained to help rehabilitate communication, thinking, and swallowing skills when illness or injury brings on changes in any of those skills. Different cognitive-communicative and swallowing exercises and therapies can improve function and quality of life for those who have already endured so much. Alternative methods of communication may also be required and our team is equipped to apply those methods to the needs by our patients.
Speech Therapy at Indianapolis Rehabilitation Hospital
If you or someone you love has experienced decreases in the ability to speak, communicate or swallow, an intensive program at our hospital with our speech language therapists may be indicated. Give us a call at 463.333.9110