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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna offers hope and healing to COVID-19 survivors

October 10, 2022

Roughly 16 million Americans between the ages of 18 to 65 are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms long after infection, according to a recent Brookings Institution report. The condition, commonly known as long COVID, can include a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, brain fog, breathing issues and even anxiety or depression.

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals has led the way in post-COVID-19 rehabilitation care. Throughout the pandemic, our team of specialized health care experts has treated hundreds of individuals with post-COVID-19 complications, collaborated with researchers nationwide to advance clinical guidelines for post-COVID-19 rehabilitation care, and even launched an interdisciplinary post-COVID-19 rehabilitation clinic in 2021.

With Madonna’s holistic approach to medical rehabilitation, the new clinic addresses physical and emotional post-COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, Madonna is expanding its neuropsychology services to support this population’s unique mental health challenges.

We recently sat down with Madonna’s Senior Director of Neuropsychology Travis Groft, Ph.D., to talk about the organization’s newly-created model system of post-COVID care and the mental health treatments Madonna offers to COVID-19 survivors.

Q. What mental health symptoms are you seeing among individuals experiencing post-COVID-19 symptoms?

People who are struggling with persisting symptoms after a bout of COVID often describe an experience of ‘brain fog,’ which refers to difficulties with focusing their attention, thinking quickly, and remembering information. These symptoms can run the gamut from a very mild inconvenience to significant impediment to performing their customary activities of daily life. These symptoms can be improved with a variety of treatment approaches. The duration of the symptoms is not yet fully established, and Madonna is actively engaged in research to evaluate longer-term outcomes and the effectiveness of treatment. In addition to the thinking and memory concerns, some persons will experience emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, and loss of energy or motivation. In some cases, patients experience post-traumatic stress symptoms related to frightening experiences such as emergency room treatment or breathing problems.

Q. What does a neuropsychologist do, and how do they provide mental health support for this patient population?

“Madonna offers several different forms of mental health care to persons with persisting COVID symptoms. A neuropsychologist provides in-depth testing of mental functions such as attention, learning, memory, problem-solving, and language. Our health psychologists assess an individual’s health maintenance behaviors, coping style, resilience, and life goals. The psychologists will also evaluate the severity of any symptoms of depression or anxiety. Rehabilitation counselors provide counseling to those in need of ongoing help and support.

Q. How is Madonna’s model system of post-COVID care leading the way in medical rehabilitation?

“For decades, Madonna has been a leader in the treatment of disabling conditions such as brain injuries, neuromuscular disorders, or paralysis. We have a proven record of success in using interdisciplinary teamwork to return our patients to their valued activities and life goals following injuries or disabling illnesses. To meet the challenges of the COVID pandemic, we are establishing best practices in the treatment of COVID survivors and their families, connecting with other facilities across the country, and building a base of research support to evaluate and refine our practices.”

Q. Madonna plans to open a Behavioral Health Psychology Center soon. What is the goal of this program?

“The COVID pandemic has been stressful and difficult for many. There has been an increase in the frequency of several psychiatric conditions, and many Americans have felt helpless and isolated. This global disaster has highlighted the need for mental care for the members of our communities. Here at Madonna, we are expanding our services to include health psychology, which is a form of psychology that emphasizes health, wellness, resilience, and recovery. Through our new Behavioral Health Psychology Center, we seek to help members of the community overcome medically-based disabilities, build confidence, and regain health and wellness.”

Q. What should someone do if they think they or a loved one has persistent COVID-19 symptoms?

“Persisting COVID symptoms are sometimes difficult to recognize. Detailed assessment is important to distinguish persisting COVID symptoms from other disorders, and to determine if they are being exacerbated by conditions such as depression and anxiety. If a person feels that they may have persisting COVID symptoms, or observe these symptoms in a loved one, the first step is to speak with a family doctor, who can give a variety of tests to determine the origin of the symptoms. Based on the doctor’s findings, he or she may provide a referral to Madonna’s evaluation and treatment teams.”

For more information about Madonna’s post-COVID clinic, please call 402.413.3930 or visit our website.


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