COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — The coronavirus not only affects the respiratory system; medical professionals are now learning the severe impact the disease could have on a person’s physical abilities.

That’s why some therapists are using technology to help patients with rehabilitation. At first glance, the activity may seem like an in-home interactive gaming system, but it’s actually technology therapists with Johns Hopkins’ Outpatient Physical Therapy at Columbia are using to help patients recover from COVID-19.

Therapists who spoke with WJZ said the technology is also being used at other Johns Hopkins facilities across the area.

“We are able to use this device so therapists can work with the patients remotely outside of the room,” therapist Harrison Segall said. “Also they can work on their exercises through the device when the therapist isn’t there.”

Segall and therapist Hayley Haaf said COVID-19’s aggressive attack on the physical capabilities of the body caught some medical experts off guard.

“We expected the shortness of breath but we weren’t expecting how much assistance they would need just to sit on the edge of the bed,” Segall said.

Their team started using technology from Switzerland with a camera on top. Patients can do their physical activity at home or in a totally different building.

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Therapists said the technology also allows for real-time feedback from their therapist.

“They need a lot of help doing basic things,” Haaf said. “Being able to stand up, walk around, things that they were able to do fine prior to having COVID.”

Haaf said many patients’ physical abilities devolved while they were hooked up to ventilators.

“We are able to work on their balance, their endurance, their coordination, their strength,” she said.

Segall said about 60 patients are using the technology so far. Most patients are in rehabilitation facilities and a few are at home. Segall said they hope to expand.

“It really kind of sets the bar high for how to get back to their prior level of function,” she said.

The therapists said this technology is also used with stroke patients who’ve lost the ability to balance and coordinate.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Ava-joye Burnett

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