MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) -- The coronavirus has taken more than 200 lives in Wisconsin and more than 40-thousand lives across the United States. Meanwhile, as family, friends, and colleagues mourn those lost, there are thousands still fighting to recover. “What’s most important is that people know that exercise and rehab planning from the very first day of hospitalization is going to get them home earlier and home safer,” Dr. Andrew Haig said.

For decades, Dr. Andrew Haig and his team at the International Rehab Forum have been helping to rehabilitate countries after natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, their focus has shifted to help survivors. “When my group from Africa and the United States got together a couple of weeks ago we realized that hospitals and the public would just be wiped out badly because they weren’t looking at the rehabilitation of people with coronavirus,” Haig said. 

So, Dr. Haig and his group in the US, Africa, Bangladesh, and some European countries got together to come up with simple ideas for hospitals, as well as, things people can do while recovering at home.“You can do some really simple exercises-stretching and sitting up and standing, as well as, mentally working with yourself and family members on whether your thinking is okay and whether your emotions are okay,” Haig said.

For the sickest COVID-19 patient, getting on a ventilator to help them breathe can be a life-saving process, but it comes with both physical and mental side effects. “There are a whole bunch of bad things that happen not only to people's brains, but their muscles go away, their heart starts racing faster and of their lungs are damaged. PTSD is really common because and that’s why it’s important to look at rehabilitation not just as an exercise, but also keeping people's heads together and counseling them after this scary episode of someone putting you to sleep and you don’t know if you will wake up again. Putting a tube down your throat and waking up with wires all over you in a hospital thinking you are going to die all by yourself,” he said.

A list of simple exercises and protocols can be found HERE.