COVID-19 presents a bigger risk to those with muscle disorders

We know that people with heart disease, lung conditions, and diabetes are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. But so are people with muscle disorders.

In a number of ways, they have to take extra measures to help themselves. We talked to Mayo Clinic nurse specialist Lisa Beck who says this virus has the potential to attack these patients at their weakest points.

"So, persons with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, ALS-Lou Gehrig’s disease," explained Beck. "With these conditions, many persons can have weakened chest and abdominal muscles and diaphragm. So, they really can’t produce a really good cough to move those secretions up and out. Nor can they take a nice deep breath and get a good-sized amount of oxygen for the body.”

Beck advises patients with these conditions to make sure they stay hydrated to keep their secretions thin, reposition their body throughout the day to help move those secretions and perform coughing and breathing exercises to help expand lung capacity.

Those who are wheelchair-bound, or need one for mobility, need to take extra precautions.

"So persons in wheelchairs do sit lower than a standing person," she said. "And so remember this coronavirus is a droplet virus. So, if someone is standing next to a person in a wheelchair, remember those droplets drop. So a person in a wheelchair is more exposed, not only needing to wash their hands but to wash their face to wash the surfaces of their wheelchair such as the joystick, push rim, armrest or any trays."

If you’re a caregiver, Beck strongly recommends you take you temperature before heading to someone’s house. Once you are there, wear a mask and wash your hands as often as possible.