For some COVID-19 patients, physical rehab follows recovery

Patients who beat COVID-19 might still come out of the disease with some physical limitations that require rehab. (FOX 9)

Nearly six months after being discharged from the hospital, Sophia Schoolmeesters is still feeling the impacts of COVID-19.

While she’s now free of the virus, she’s still on supplemental oxygen and constantly fatigued.

"I couldn’t sit down and stand-up," said Schoolmeesters. "It took me 80 seconds to stand up and sit down five times not using my arms on the side of the chair."

Her slow recovery is what brought her to Novacare Rehabilitation in Elk River, Minnesota.

"Now I can go up the stairs twice a day," she said.

The provider looked at the symptoms being reported by COVID-19 survivors, like overall weakness and compromised lung function, and built a program using tools they already had.

"Granted we don’t know the final outcome for what it's going to look like for COVID-19 patients but we have evidence to support what we’re doing," said occupational therapist Jessika Lackie.

It includes frequent vital checks, slowly raising that cardiovascular threshold and re-building strength.

"We went to the American College of Sports Medicine and these studies out of Europe and we said, 'Alright, what are their parameters for how to safely progress exercise,'" added Lackie.

Six weeks in and Schoolmeesters says she’s feeling more like her old self but this is not something she wishes on anyone.

"Hearing people talking about not wanting to wear masks and that it's fake," she said. "I don’t get that way of thinking. Where do you live and what are you listening to?”

She says, for her, the experience was all too real. "I want them to take it more seriously... It is real. It's very real."