Clinical condition, resuscitation and medical-psychological care of severe COVID-19 patients(part 1)
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This interview covers the clinical and psychological condition of patients afflicted with severe COVID-19 and their pulmonary rehabilitation process. For these patients, symptoms are medically urgent and lifethreatening. The sequelae of this viral attack and immune response to it are significant, and often persist for months after discharge from intensive care. To understand the medical and psychological state of these patients, a description is given of the organs affected, the oxygen cycle in the body and the medical care procedures that are used to help patients with dysfunctional respiratory systems. The link between physical and psychological progress is described. Physical weakness results from pulmonary sequelae and deconditioning, and is often experienced by patients as mental fatigue similar to psychological depression. This may draw the patient into a downward spiral, with multiple health aspects deteriorating, independently of the resolution of initial problems. Conversely, a positive physical or psychological evolution may lead to the evolution of the other. Thus, reversing the negative trend for just one system component can delay, completely arrest the spiralling down, or transform it into an upward spiral, improving the patient’s condition. In addition, for people undergoing severe COVID-19, the return to normal life could be destabilizing and memories that arise from their crisis state may trigger PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Health and psychosocial professionals hold an important role both in post-hospital care and in secondary prevention, i.e. prevention of relapse and re-hospitalization. Physical rehabilitation work must take these psychological factors into account, in the same way that any psychological follow-up is supposed to consider physiological factors.