What is PICS?
You may have heard recent discussions about post intensive care syndrome (PICS). It has been in the spotlight as a syndrome that affects those who have been fighting COVID-19 after a stay in the intensive care unit (ICU). PICS has actually been around for many years, but was often overlooked due to limited awareness.
Cases of PICS are most common in individuals who have had a critical illness that requires sedation or ventilation. In one NIH study, clinicians discovered significant functional disabilities in surviving patients after their ICU stay. Symptoms may include cognitive impairments, impacts on psychological health and deficits in physical function.
How does it affect function?
PICS affects your thinking and judgement skills. in addition to weakening your neuromuscular system which then leads to physical weakness. Signs of psychological impact can affect both the survivor and the caregivers.
A review by Zhen Yan of the University of Virginia School of Medicine showed that medical research findings “strongly support” the possibility that exercise can prevent or at least reduce the severity of ARDS, which affects between 3% and 17% of all patients with COVID-19.
What should I look out for?
Signs of PICS are: fatigue, overall weakness, sleep disturbances, poor concentration, being anxious and difficulty getting through your day.
Where can I get help?
A skilled physical therapist is a great option for PICS care. At Apex, we apply a wellness based approach to care that will assist you through these times. Implementing movement strategies, mindfulness and nutritional guidance, we can assist you with your recovery. We can help provide ways to limit environmental stress, guide you toward a safe return to daily and recreational activity, improve your nutrition and help you sleep better.
How does exercise benefit PICS and post COVID-19 recovery?
Recent studies have backed the fact that daily exercise helps to improve functional mobility, increases lung capacity and lung function and reduces psycho-social and emotional problems.
Rawal, G., Yaday, S., Kumar, R. “Post-Intensive Care Syndrome: an Overview.” J Transl Int Med. 2017 Jun; 5(2) 90-92.