APTA Calls for National Plan To Address PASC
APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, issued a statement announcing that APTA has joined with the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to call the Biden administration and Congress to establish a national plan to address post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, or PASC, the condition often referred to as "long COVID." Dunn writes that the plan "must provide a national infrastructure to establish best practices and strategies to address the array of interventions that individuals with PASC will need" while ensuring equitable access and funding further scientific study.
The Myths and Mysteries of Post-Intensive Care Syndrome
A feature article in the April edition of ATPA Magazine takes a deep dive into PICS — what it is, the role of physical therapy, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased focus on the syndrome. The article touches on the financial impacts of PICS, its effects on a patient's family, and recovery timelines, among other topics.
A PT Lives With the Uncertainty of Long COVID
It's been a year since Darren Brown, a physiotherapist in the U.K., was first diagnosed with COVID-19. He still experiences symptoms associated with so-called "long-COVID," or PASC. Darren shared his story with APTA.
CDC Updates Travel Guidance for the Fully Vaccinated
In light of large-scale COVID-19 vaccination programs and their "real world effects," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for people who are "fully vaccinated," meaning it has been at least two weeks since their final COVID-19 vaccination. The new guidelines, subject to state laws and the laws of other countries, allow international travel without first getting a COVID-19 test, and no need to self-quarantine after returning to the U.S. The agency still recommends a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S., a COVID-19 test three to five days after returning from international travel, and the continuation of travel precautions while traveling internationally.
COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Tick Up
The CDC reports that as of April 5, the U.S. has experienced a 2.4% increase in new cases over the past seven days, or 443,982 reported cases. COVID-19 deaths have also increased, by 2.7%, with 7,336 new deaths reported since March 30. Hospital admissions dropped slightly between March 30 and April 7, to 33,898 new admissions, a decrease of 0.6%.
HHS Launches "Community Corps" to Encourage Vaccination
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is ramping up its public awareness efforts around COVID-19 vaccinations, creating a "community corps" program to enlist "trusted voices in communities across the country" to encourage vaccination at the local level. The effort will include TV ads in English and Spanish.
In the Media
PASC Symptoms More Prevalent Among Women in Middle Age
From Reuters: "Women in their 40s and 50s appear more at risk of long-term problems following discharge from hospital after COVID-19, with many suffering months of persistent symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog, two UK studies found."
COVID-19 "Long-Haul" Symptoms Overlap With ME/CFS
From Medscape: "People experiencing long-term symptoms following acute COVID-19 infection are increasingly meeting criteria for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, a phenomenon that highlights the need for unified research and clinical approaches."
U.K. COVID-19 Variant Becoming Predominant in Parts of the U.S.
From CNBC: "The highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. is starting to become the predominant strain in many regions of the U.S. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, now accounts for 26% of Covid-19 cases circulating across the nation, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters."
FCC to Distribute $250 Million for Telehealth Support
From Fierce Healthcare: "The Federal Communications Commission this week unanimously approved a process for distributing nearly $250 million to help healthcare providers deliver telehealth services. The funding will cover the costs of providers' telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency said it expects to begin accepting health care providers’ applications for the funds within 30 days."
Increased Rates of COVID-19 Among Children Raise Concerns Over Spread of Variants
From Medscape: "In earlier surges, children — especially younger children — played only minor roles in transmitting the infection. Now, as more SARS-CoV-2 variants have begun to dominate, and seniors gain protection from vaccines, that pattern may be changing. Infectious disease experts are watching to see if COVID-19 will start to spread in a pattern more similar to influenza, with children becoming infected first and bringing the infection home to their parents."
New in Research
"Brain Fog" Experienced by 81% of COVID-19 Non-Hospitalized "Long Haulers"; Other Neurologic Symptoms Present in More than Half
An analysis of 100 PASC patients who were never hospitalized and had neurologic symptoms for at least six weeks found that "brain fog" was the most prevalent symptom experienced, with 81% of patients reporting the condition. Other frequently reported symptoms were headache (61%), numbness/tingling (60%), dysgeusia (59%), anosmia (55%), and myalgias (55%). Findings were published in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
"Comprehensive Review" of Studies on PASC to Date Focuses on Epidemiology and Organ-Specific Sequelae
A study published in Nature Medicine gathers what's known about the effects of PASC to provide information on a timeline of symptom duration, effects on pulmonary, cardiovascular, hematologic, neuropsychiatric, renal, gastrointestinal, and dermatological systems, and racial and ethnic considerations in treatment. The report also includes an infographic on coordinated care for PASC patients.
Case Report From NY Highlights Role of Physical Therapy in COVID-19 Treatment
A report published in the Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal tracks the activities of an acute physical therapy team working in a large New York City hospital system during the height of the pandemic in the city in spring 2020, and provides information on key risk factors for hospitalization, the benefits of early and intensive rehabilitation, PT education on COVID-19, and the therapeutic focus used by the team. Authors find that "close attention to medical status, safety, steps to minimize viral transmission, and early PT intervention in the cute setting (can allow patients to) make significant functional progress."
Oral Cavity "An Important Site" for COVID-19 Infection
Scientists led by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have determined that the human mouth can also be a site of coronavirus infection, lending more support to the idea that the virus can infect cells in parts of the body besides the lungs and upper airways, including the digestive system, blood vessels, and kidneys. The findings were published in Nature Medicine.