The effects of COVID-19

Interview with Prof. Dr. Michael Jöbges


Interview with Prof. Dr. Michael Jöbges on the effect of COVID-19 on patients and the rehabilitation sector

To what extent has the corona pandemic affected rehabilitation in Germany?

It has severely affected neurological rehabilitation. This is mainly because patients withdrew from acute treatment due to COVID-19, leading to long-term damages that will cost our society dearly. On the other hand, it has forced hospitals to react to the concerns of patients and payers by introducing new and much higher hygiene and safety standards. At Kliniken Schmieder, we manage the risks during the pandemic with an internally developed system to ensure our patient’s rehabilitation is safe.

How can rehabilitation clinics contribute to the treatment of patients suffering from Long-COVID?

From a neurologist’s point of view, there is probably not just one “Post-COVID syndrome”. Some people have survived severe COVID-19 infection thanks to intensive medical interventions. For this group of patients, we now know that structures in the area of the central as well as the peripheral nervous system are damaged.
A completely different group of patients with “post-COVID syndromes” was only slightly affected by the infection and, for the most part, did not even have to be treated as inpatients. Here, fatigue is often the main problem of concern.
At present, we are analyzing the similarities and differences between these two forms of subjective fatigue and measurable fatigue (fatigability) in both the motor as well as in cognitive domains. In the process, the stresses and strains suffered, as well as psychodynamic reactions, are considered. In approach allows us to describe the clinical picture as accurately as possible and, based on the findings, derive the individual rehabilitation program.

How great will the burden of disease be due to the late effects?

I want to answer this question in light of the latest publication of the German Society for Neurology. 4 out of 5 affected patients, who were hospitalized, suffered from neurological symptoms, and in Switzerland, one-third of those who were SARS-CoV-2 infected but not hospitalized were found to have detectable symptoms. The neurological rehabilitation sector faces new challenges if these figures are only rudimentarily confirmed.