How Physiotherapists Should Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus disease 2019 (CoViD-19) has become a pandemic, threatening the health of millions of people across the world. As frontline practitioners, physiotherapists are at risk of coming in direct contact with COVID-19 patients. It is important for physiotherapists to understand their role in identifying, containing, mitigating, and treating the symptoms associated with the virus.

 

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Here are some of the key points to help you understand the role of physiotherapists in managing COVID-19-related issues:

  • Recognizing the symptoms of infectious disease
  • Educating and providing patients with appropriate support and timely treatment decisions
  • Advising and treating patients experiencing adverse outcomes, both in the acute phase and in longer-term recovery
  • Treating respiratory health issues caused by the COVID-19 infection and maintaining essential functions, strength, mobility, and flexibility while relieving secondary complications from isolation conditions, including blood clots, muscle wasting, weakness caused by de-conditioning, and other effects on psychological well-being.
  • Providing intervention for mobilization, exercise, and rehabilitation for patients who are at risk of ICU-acquired weakness or with comorbidities causing a significant decline in function.
  • Identify more physical resourcing requiring physiotherapy intervention and reduce the risk of cross-infections. For example, respiratory equipment, mobilization, exercise, and rehabilitation tools and equipment, and storage for equipment.
  • Providing intervention only when there are clinical indicators to reduce exposure of staff to COVID-19 patients. An unnecessary review of isolated COVID-19 patients will have a negative impact on the supply of PPEs.
  • Meet with senior medical staff regularly to identify clinical indications for physiotherapy review in confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients and conduct proper screening according to the standard guidelines.
  • Respiratory physiotherapy intervention in hospital wards or ICUs may be recommended for confirmed or confirmed COVID-19 patients, who developed exudative consolidation mucous hypersecretion and/or difficulty clearing secretions.

Physiotherapy Management Principles

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Respiratory Care

  • Airway clearance techniques (active breathing cycle, positioning, manual and/or ventilator hyperinflation, positive expiratory pressure (PEP) therapy, mechanical insufflation-exsufflation (MI-E)
  • Non-invasive ventilation application (part of airway clearance strategies or in respiratory failure management) and inspiratory positive pressure breathing (IPPB) for patients with fractured ribs
  • Techniques that help facilitate clearance for mucous secretion, including assisted or stimulated cough manoeuvres or airway suctioning.
  • Exercise prescription and mobilization

Mobilization, Exercise, and Rehabilitation

Another important responsibility of physiotherapists is the provision of musculoskeletal/neurological/cardiopulmonary rehabilitation tasks, such as:

  • Active, passive, active-assisted, or resisted joint range of motion exercise that helps boost and/or maintain the integrity of the joint, as well as mobility and muscle strength.
  • Mobilization and rehabilitation, such as bed mobility, sitting balance, sit to stand, upper or lower limb ergometry, exercise programs.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) continues to work hard on building resources and support tools to protect physiotherapists who are potentially exposed to the increasing outbreak of COVID-19. CPA is working around the clock to ensure that physiotherapists receive the necessary resources and support systems, especially those working on the front lines and those whose livelihoods are in jeopardy as patients are cancelling their appointments and forced closure of clinics.

 

How COVID-19 Affect Dental Practices

Aside from the serious implications of COVID-19 on human health, the coronavirus also caused a significant impact on almost all business industries in Canada, including dental practices. It has brought uncertainty to dental health professionals. The Public Health Agency in Canada, as well as the provincial and municipal government, recommends temporary closure of dental clinics concerning social distancing protocols rolled out across the nation. The dental industry supports the recommendations made by the Public Health authorities to ensure social distancing. Dentists and other dental health providers understand the importance of taking exceptional measures to minimize the transmission of the virus. That is why dental professionals only offer their services to those with emergency needs.

 

Why Dentistry Is a High-Risk Branch

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The COVID-19 pandemic has gravely affected thousands of Canadian dentists and their patients. Studies reported that the presence of the virus in the saliva of COVID-19 patients, which can be pivotal in human-to-human transmission. Dentists and other dental health providers do not want to become a hotspot for the transmission of the virus, as they may unknowingly provide aerosol-generating dental procedures to infected but not yet diagnosed COVID-19 patients. Inhaling these airborne particles and aerosols during the dental procedure on COVID-19 infected patients puts dentists into direct exposure of the virus. 

 

Should You Pause or Cancel Your SEO Campaign

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With the Public Health Agency in Canada recommending temporary shutdown of dental clinics or revamping dental processes and focus on emergency ones, it may sound sensible to pause your organic dental SEO or digital marketing campaign. 

However, the pandemic is temporary; dropping your SEO campaign would mean missing out on organic searches and falling behind your competitors. Acquiring patients would become more difficult when the industry comes roaring back. Continuing your marketing effort amidst the coronavirus pandemic provides you with a huge advantage over those who do not. 

 

Connecting with Your Patients

Despite the temporary closure of your dental office, there are still various ways you can make an impact by making some extra efforts to your existing and potential patients the high-quality services and value you provide during the COVID-19 crisis. 

 

  • Maintain Your Online Presence – Having a live, active website helps maintain a strong online presence. Find out the potential dental concerns your patients may experience during the COVID-19 lockdown and provide solutions to the problems. Make sure to provide updated contact information and guidance on how you handle patients requiring emergency dental care.

 

  • Be Active on Social Media – With many of your prospective clients that are active on different social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, now is the perfect time to build or maintain your social media presence. Make sure to post relevant content at least once or twice a week to appear in the newsfeeds of your patients. Adding an image or informative video in your content helps boost engagement.

 

  • Start TeleDentistry – Did you know that you can provide virtual consultation to your patients? There are various apps designed to provide teledentistry services, an effective way to keep in contact with your patients when you are unable to provide personal treatment at your dental clinic. It does not only provide patients with peace of mind but also reduces the risk of going out for a simple prescription.

 

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COVID-19 Facts to Help Set You Straight

By now, everyone is feeling the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the situation evolves, new information comes out that can help you protect yourself. But with all the information swirling around, it can be difficult to separate fact from myth. It’s important to arm yourself with the right information to make it easier to protect yourself and your family until things get better. Here are a few facts about the virus that can give you some extra protection and help you stay safe.

 

Disposable Masks Don’t Work the Way You Think

We know the virus is spread from infected body fluids (usually discharge from infected coughs and sneezes), so some people take the precaution of wearing disposable face masks to filter germs as they breathe. However, face masks don’t work that way; they really work by keeping your droplets from spilling out and releasing germs, not by keeping them out of your respiratory system. Ideally, most people should stop buying masks and save them for people who need them most (i.e. healthcare workers taking care of patients).

 

Younger Patients Are Also at Risk

In a pandemic, it’s usually the elderly or those with preexisting health conditions considered to be most at risk. That is true (those demographics will be hit hardest if they get sick), but people of any age can contract coronavirus. According to the New York Times, nearly 40% of hospitalized patients in North America are below the age of 54. It’s important everyone in your family, regardless of age, stay at home and minimize the risk of infection.

 

You Might Still Be Contagious, Even Without Symptoms

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Not showing any symptoms is definitely a good thing, but it’s vital you stay vigilant all the same. Up to 70 or 80% of people may show mild or even no symptoms, but might still be infectious. To avoid putting yourself or others at risk, minimize going out, and maintain social distancing when you have to. It’s also important to wash your hands regularly to keep yourself clean and help stay safe.

 

Warmer Weather Won’t Do Much

Some people are hoping that once the weather shifts, the pandemic might slow down. Unfortunately, warmer temperatures won’t do much to kill off the virus. The spread may slow down once it gets a little warmer, but that’s mainly due to there less coughing and sneezing in the warmer months. With that in mind, be mindful of social distancing even as the seasons change to give yourself more protection when you have to leave the house for errands.

 

Over-the-Counter Meds Don’t Hurt

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There are some rumours going around that OTC medicines (for example ibuprofen) can make the virus worse. The truth is that there’s no evidence to back up that claim, and over-the-counter medication can be one way of dealing with any symptoms that pop up. Use whatever medicine works to help relieve symptoms. For example, ibuprofen can help deal with aches and pains, while acetaminophen helps with fevers.

 

Avoid Home Remedies

You may also have heard that certain home remedies (like gargling hot tea) can have a hand in fighting off the virus. At best, these remedies soothe some of the symptoms, like sore throats, but don’t actually do anything to fight the virus. Another home remedy you may have heard is spraying yourself with disinfectants like alcohol or chlorine to kill the germs. These substances are useful as surface disinfectants, making them an instant no-no as a remedy.

 

The most important thing is not to panic. Use these insights to help take care of yourself while COVID-19 remains a threat. Eventually, the pandemic will run its course and life will resume; knowing these facts can be a great way to protect yourself until then.