by Chaim Backman PT, EMT
It’s been a year since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. As we sadly know, we in the Jewish community suffered terrible losses and went through some very tough times. Thank G-d, the rate of infections and hospitalizations is down from the peak, but we are not yet totally done with this virus, especially as there are a few variant forms now emerging.
When the outbreak began, many of our elderly and those with comorbidities were able to survive by quarantining in place, often for months on end. However, once they emerged over the past few months, some of them became infected with Covid-19. In addition, many younger people have also been infected with the Covid-19 virus or one of its newer strains. Once infected, they develop the typical symptoms of shortness of breath, cough and difficulty breathing. Thankfully, there are many more treatments now than in the early days. These can include monoclonal antibodies, steroids, and several other new antiviral medications.
In addition to the new drugs, we now know more about the effects of Covid-19 on the body and what we need to do to decrease its severity and effect on our health.
During the acute stage of the disease, people would often stay in bed and rest. The combination of shallow breathing, lung inflammation and being immobile leads directly to a drop in the blood oxygen levels. Normal level is 99%. As the level drops to the mid 90’s: prompt intervention is needed to avoid a further drop. If it drops below 90%: the person needs immediate care.
Another very common but serious occurrence is the high rate of blood clots that have been found in Covid-19 patients. The rate is much higher than in typical patients recovering from a bad illness such as the flu. The cause is unclear at this time, but may be due to some effect Covid 19 has on stimulating the blood clotting mechanism. This increase in clots can be very dangerous and even fatal, as clots can cause a stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism.
After working with hundreds of newly diagnosed Covid-19 patients, I developed a treatment protocol to address the main issues of decreased blood oxygen level and higher risk of clots, that can increase the risk of hospitalization. Initially, all these treatments were done in person. As I got more calls from other areas, I then started to assist them via telehealth sessions.
At the request of several physicians that were referring patients to me for care, I assembled all the breathing exercises and the general exercises and combined them in an easy-to-use ebook. This ebook contains the complete routine in an easy-to-follow step-by-step order, with each exercise clearly described. There is a video clip attached to each exercise that clearly demonstrates how to perform it properly.
The breathing exercise routine includes deep breathing exercises using the diaphragm muscle, coughing exercises and proper use of the incentive spirometer. To breathe properly, one has to use the diaphragm muscle to expand the lungs and fill them with air. That means, the abdomen should expand (push outwards) and the rib cage should lift up and outwards. This is detailed clearly in the ebook and the attached demonstration video.
After the breathing exercises, there is a general full-body exercise program, complete with sheets and videos detailing the proper way to perform the exercises, as well as a tracking sheet to help the person stay on target and not skip anything.
The last step of the routine is a walking program. The person must get up and walk at least 5-10 mins per hour during the day. From the time they wake up until they go to sleep for the night, they must move regularly. If they feel very weak; they can stand up next to the bed and march in place, or break up the walking to a few minutes every half an hour. Always have someone near them for safety while walking or standing to prevent a fall.
–Chaim Backman is a physical therapist who specializes in homecare physical therapy and the rehab of post-surgery/illness or hospitalized patient. He is currently working with multiple Covid 19 patients. He is also a member of Crown Heights Hatzalah.
Chaim Backman graduated from Hunter College Physical Therapy program in 1996. He worked briefly at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, where he specialized in working with post-cardiac surgery patients. He soon opened his own private practice in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 1998. He worked as the community physical therapist, doing both office visits, as well as home visits for those too sick to come to the office. Over recent years, the trend in health care is to discharge a patient home sooner than ever before. These patients tended to be quite weak and deconditioned. To meet these new challenges, Chaim designed and developed an intensive in-home rehab system that can be used for any type of post-hospital discharge. This has proven to help restore such patients to their prior level of function.
Over the past several years, Chaim has specialized in the private care of seriously ill and sick homebound patients, including those on ventilators and other types of life support equipment.