APTA Clinical Summary Addresses Long COVID Examination and Treatment
APTA's long COVID clinical summary is a resource for getting the basics on the condition, with special emphasis on rehabilitative interventions. Developed by an expert clinician group that included APTA members in addition to representatives from speech-language pathology and occupational therapy, the summary touches on everything from a fundamental condition description to interventions, plan of care, and discharge. Other sections include examination, prognosis, and disease classification.
Long COVID Rehab Course Now Available for Viewing
A newly recorded program, "Long COVID Rehabilitation—Multidisciplinary Care: Pitfalls to Avoid and Pearls to Enhance Treatment" has been added to the APTA Learning Center. Part of the APTA Lecture Series, the presentation features insights from PTs, an occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, and a rehab psychologist. Up to 0.8 CEUs (8 contact hours/CCUs) can be earned from the course.
Extension of Public Health Emergency Raises Questions About Waivers
The nationwide public health emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic has been extended until Jan. 11, 2023, which may have some regulatory implications as the PHE crosses into the new year. Specifically, the new expiration date raises questions around the issue of virtual supervision of PTAs and waivers for the use of telehealth by PTs and PTAs.
PTJ Editor-in-Chief: The Looming Challenge of Long COVID
Alan Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA, authored an editorial for PTJ: Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal on the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic and what health care in general — and the physical therapy profession in particular — could be facing in the treatment of long COVID.
New in Research
Providers Need to Do More to Educate, Prepare Families for Post-Discharge Caregiving of Family Members Hospitalized in the ICU for COVID-19
A recent qualitative descriptive study of families providing care for members who were admitted to the hospital ICU for COVID-19 identified the ways caregivers need to adapt their lives to the unique challenges of providing care. Through interviews, researchers identified six major themes: the need to engage support of family and friends, increased responsibilities, the challenges of managing emotions, managing infection control, addressing patient independence, and leveraging other support services. Authors of the study believe that providers can better prepare families for the challenges they may face through education while the patient is still hospitalized. The article was published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
Long COVID Symptoms Present in 15% of Those Who Tested Positive for COVID
A cross-sectional study published in JAMA Network Open analyzed data from more than 16,000 U.S. adults who reported a prior positive test for COVID-19 and found that nearly 15% were experiencing one or more long COVID symptoms two or more months post-infection. Older age and female gender were associated with greater incidence of long-COVID symptoms. Authors believe that risk may be reduced for those who completed a primary vaccination series before becoming infected.
Blood Pressure Levels Increased Only Slightly During Pandemic
An analysis for 137,593 adults with hypertension found that the frequency of blood pressure measurement dropped significantly during the initial months of pandemic lockdowns, eventually ticking up through January 2021 but never reaching pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, actual blood pressure levels didn't rise as much as some researchers feared. They found that systolic readings increased an average of 1.7 mmHg, and diastolic readings rose by 1.3 mmHg. Authors of the study believe the relatively minor rise in blood pressure during the lockdowns points to the effectiveness of at-home blood pressure monitoring technologies. The article was published in Hypertension.
Crowdsourced Database Compiles Current Most-Common COVID-19 Symptoms
The Zoe Health Study program continues to track symptoms reported by individuals who test positive for COVID-19 grouped by vaccination status. As of Oct. 22, the five most common symptoms reported by the fully vaccinated were, in order, sore throat, runny nose, blocked nose, persistent cough, and headache, with previous common symptoms of anosmia, shortness of breath, and fever dropping to sixth, 29th, and eighth place, respectively. Among the unvaccinated, the top five reported symptoms were, in order, headache, sore throat, runny nose, fever, and persistent cough.
U.S. COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, Continue to Decline
Total coronavirus cases in the United States have reached 97,329,787 as of Oct. 26, according to the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker. The seven-day average of new cases is 37,683 as of Oct. 26, a drop from a Sept.26 rate of 49,808. The most recent available seven-day averages for hospitalizations, Oct. 23-29, is 3,019, a 7.1% decrease from the previous average. Deaths decreased slightly to a weekly total of 2,649 as of Oct. 26, compared with a weekly total of 2,920 as of Sept. 28. The U.S. death total from COVID-19 is now estimated at 1,066,351.
Veterans Affairs Publishes Guidebook on Long COVID Care
Now available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Whole Health System Approach to Long COVID, a resource designed to help providers and caregivers understand the symptoms of the condition. In addition to the information on symptoms, the guidebook includes insight on assessing autonomic symptoms and recommendations on how clinicians can shape treatment to patient needs.
HHS Awards $21 Million for Future Pathogen Preparedness
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded funds totaling $21 million to 13 health care facilities to increase preparedness for "emerging special pathogens." The funds are aimed at improving integration of operations at local, regional, and state levels as well as increasing facility capacities. The facilities receiving the funds, provided through the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, have been designated as Regional Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Centers.
In the Media
Majority of New COVID Cases Linked to 'Scrabble Variants'
From CNN: "The Omicron BA.5 subvariant is no longer the dominant cause of Covid-19 infections in the United States, according to estimates released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Instead a host of new sublineages — offshoots of BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5 — are now responsible for the majority of new infections in this country. Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital, calls these many new lineages 'scrabble variants' because they contain letters like X and Q that get high scores in the game."
COVID, Flu, and RSV Could Result in 'Tripledemic'
From Reuters: "U.S. doctors are warning that a surge in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is coinciding with an increase in COVID transmission and an earlier-than-normal flu season, raising the specter of a 'tripledemic' of respiratory illness this winter. In particular, RSV infections among young children are reportedly filling some U.S. hospitals to capacity."
End of Health Emergency Has Some Pediatricians Worried
From NPR: "Millions of children across the U.S. rely on Medicaid for health coverage. Since the start of the COVID pandemic, a federal emergency declaration has allowed them to receive continuous coverage — without having to re-enroll or jump through bureaucratic hoops."
Handwashing as a Hedge Against COVID-19 Being Rethought
From The Atlantic: "Any public-health expert will be quick to tell you that, please, yes, you should still wash your hands. Even so, the pandemic has piled on evidence that the transmission of the coronavirus via fomites — that is, inanimate contaminated objects or surfaces — plays a much smaller role, and airborne transmission a much larger one, than we once thought. And the same likely goes for other respiratory pathogens, such as influenza and the coronaviruses that cause the common cold."