“I couldn’t even lift the spoon”


Updated: Saturday, February 27, 2021 6:00 AM

Published on: 02/27/2021 2:29 PM

Leaving the ICU does not necessarily mean having overcome the consequences that the coronavirus leaves in our body. This is the case with Víctor, who spent 66 days in intensive care, more than two months bedridden in which he went from 112 kilos to just 87.

“I couldn’t even lift the spoon, I lost a lot of muscle,” he says. And it is that he, like many others, suffered from post-ICU syndrome, whereby muscles and organs can atrophy, like the lungs, which are weakened by dependence on mechanical ventilators for so long. of weeks.

Koldo Villelabeitia, head of the rehabilitation department at Infanta Elena University Hospital, says the pandemic is creating “a large volume” of patients who have “acute and chronic disabilities”, which presents them with a new scenario for which they must seek solutions.

This solution was to create post-COVID functional recovery units such as the Infanta Elena University Hospital (Madrid), focused on patients with prolonged admissions to intensive care units. “Not only respiratory disorders such as dyspnea, muscular dysfunctions have been described with this disease, but also muscular and articular disorders, cardiovascular, cognitive, psychological, nutritional neurological disorders …”, adds Dr. Villelabeitia.

This involvement of several organs at the same time must also be treated in a multidisciplinary manner. For this reason, not only internal medicine experts, psychologists, pulmonologists or endocrinologists work in this unit, but also psychologists or physiotherapists.

Since the start of the pandemic, 217 patients have passed through this unit; some of them, like Pilar, who spent 96 days in intensive care, continue to come every week. She says that when she left, she “couldn’t eat” or “get out of bed”. Its objective is to recover as quickly as possible from an illness whose consequences, for many patients, can be chronic.

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