WALLINGFORD, Conn. (NewsNation Now) — Doctors at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare in Connecticut have created a program to treat patients dealing with the lingering effects of coronavirus.
For many COVID-19 patients, the joy of testing negative is often overshadowed by the remaining symptoms of the disease. With the help of doctors, patients are able to slowly return to a ”normal” life.
Vic Gara says his recovery is still in the works today.
“I don’t have a recall of that at all because I was so hypoxic,” said Gara. “My lungs had pneumonia, I couldn’t breathe very well so my brain didn’t get a lot of oxygen unfortunately.”
During challenging physical therapy sessions, he is learning how to use his arms and feet again. The 56-year-old father of two says he contracted COVID-19 in March. He was taken to the ER twice; then rushed to the ICU in late March. He says for 11 days he was on a ventilator and for a month he could not see his family.
Even after beating the disease, he still felt sick.
“I have ringing in my ears post-COVID. I am allergic to bananas post-COVID. My balance is off. My cognitive skills, my voice as you can hear. It’s just been an uphill battle,” said Gara.
So he turned to Gaylord Specialty Healthcare for long term treatment. Dr. Jerry Kaplan runs the hospital’s COVID-19 recovery program.
“What people don’t understand is that COVID is a disease that attacks the whole body. It can be an autoimmune process as well as an inflammatory process,“ stated Dr. Kaplan. “So in addition to attacking the hearts and the lungs, it also attacks the brain and the nervous system.”
Kaplan says patients may have long-term issues like balance, memory loss, and difficulty breathing. So their team of doctors creates patient specific programs to treat mental and physical symptoms that linger on.
“There is something called neuroplasticity, so with an appropriate therapy program, we can do therapeutic exercises with the brain. Just like we could do physical exercises with a physical therapist,” explained Kaplan.
With medical professionals help Gara says he’s gotten better but knows he still has a long ways to go.