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Some COVID-19 patients could need rehabilitation to fully recover

Life after COVID-19. While some people seem to make a full recovery, there are a lot of questions about the infection’s long term impacts.

Now, clinics are popping up around the country to help patients.

After testing positive for COVID-19, spending days in the hospital and 25 days in isolation, Jason Hartelius said, “I’m thinking, ‘Great, I’m over it.'”

Unfortunately, he wound up still dealing with lingering effects into July.

“I was dealing with just incredible fatigue, exhaustion and even migraines,” he said.

Four months later and Hartelius says he’s now symptom-free and that makes him one of the lucky ones.

“A lot of the people posting, ‘I’m on day 95 and still dealing with this.’ ‘I’m on day 100 and still dealing with it,'” he said.

“There are more and more studies showing that people are having long-term symptoms from fatigue, headaches, joint pains, inability to do exercise,” explained Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez with UT Health San Antonio. She leads a recovery clinic for COVID-19 patients there.

“I said, ‘Let’s get to this, let’s start treating it now. Let’s set up a multidisciplinary program where we can have and help patients with all these needs,'” she said.

Here in Southwest Florida, rehab centers tell us they don’t’ see a need here now. But Verduzco-Gutierrez says that may have more to do with education.

“A lot of people may just be living alone or living with it, not realizing, ‘Oh, I can get help for this, I can get treatment’ and so they’re not reaching out.”

“I would have done that if I was in a situation where that was offered to me,” Hartelius said, because recovery is about more than just surviving.

After an assessment, Verduzco-Gutierrez says her clinic helps patients based on their lingering symptoms to determine if they need services like physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling or medication.

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Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Briana Harvath
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