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Lingering Covid Symptoms? Physical Therapy May Help




The Insider:

Hi Andrea! Thanks for agreeing to do a text interview with us.

Andrea Kwok:

My pleasure!

The Insider:

I’d like to start with a few questions about you and your background. Where are you from originally?

Andrea Kwok:

I grew up at the Jersey Shore

The Insider:

And where do you live now?

Andrea Kwok:

I live in downtown Manhattan

The Insider:

Where did you go to school?

Andrea Kwok:

I went to Rutgers for my undergraduate degree, and I went to the University of Delaware for my doctorate in physical therapy

The Insider:

How long have you been a physical therapist?

Andrea Kwok:

Six years

The Insider:

What is the name of your company and your title?

Andrea Kwok:

My company is Spear Physical and Occupational Therapy. I am the clinical director of the West 67th Street office in Manhattan.

The Insider:

Please tell me a little bit about the company and what it does.

Andrea Kwok:

We provide physical and occupational therapy services to the greater Manhattan area, primarily outpatient but we also have telehealth and home care services. We also offer pelvic floor and hand therapy. We are based in New York but are starting to expand to the tri-state area. We recently opened an office in Hoboken, N.J.

The Insider:

Since we’re a pandemic publication, I’m interested in hearing how your PT practice has been affected by Covid.

Andrea Kwok:

It has definitely presented new challenges. We were very lucky in that no therapists were asked to furlough at any point. However, early on when little was known, most visits were being conducted via telehealth, which was not widely used in PT prior. Very few patients were coming into the office. As things started to open back up and patients returned to the clinic in person, each office had to figure out how to maintain distancing and cleaning protocols.

The Insider:

Like the American population at large, many of our readers have unfortunately had Covid by now. Is there anything that physical therapy can offer people who have gone through that?

Andrea Kwok:

One of the issues we are seeing is PACS, or Post-Acute Covid-19 Syndrome. It is also referred to as “long COVID.” Some people who have recovered from Covid experience lingering respiratory effects or find that they have a very low tolerance for any amount of activity. There is still a lot of research to be done, but one of the interventions currently being recommended for these patients is physical therapy

The Insider:

That’s really interesting! What kind of techniques would be used?

Andrea Kwok:

The rehab process would involve a graded exercise program that can only be progressed if certain criteria are met. Because PACS patients do not demonstrate a typical response to exercise, it is important not to encourage maximum effort or progress too quickly, as this would likely exacerbate their symptoms.

The Insider:

Almost all of the Covid sufferers I’ve interviewed have mentioned fatigue as one of their main symptoms. Is it important for people who still have active Covid to get up and keep moving, or is that impossible? Should people fight the fatigue, or just rest?

Andrea Kwok:

I have not heard that increased activity levels while fighting the infection correlate with more positive outcomes. So, I would be inclined to believe that rest is the most important

The Insider:

Do you know whether insurance will pay for post-Covid physical therapy?

Andrea Kwok:

It should. You would want to be evaluated by a physician first to determine if physical therapy is appropriate

The Insider:

Are you seeing more professional energy right now about PT for long Covid? Studies, classes, that sort of thing?

Andrea Kwok:

PACS research is certainly ongoing, and it is still a relatively new condition within the scope of physical therapy. There is definitely a push to educate health care professionals about the condition, especially those involved in the rehab process. Earlier this year, Spear partnered with Mount Sinai to host a live webinar for our therapists in order to provide background information about PACS as well as the current recommended treatment protocol.

The Insider:

Are PACS patients more likely to be older?

Andrea Kwok:

No, I believe the demographics are very mixed

The Insider:

All very interesting! Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Andrea Kwok:

I think it is important to note that while physical therapy has helped in some cases, it has not proven to be the definitive solution. Researchers are still trying to determine the underlying cause of the condition, and it is suspected that additional medical intervention may also be necessary for recovery. There are no conclusive studies yet. The symptoms and responses of PACS patients are widely varied, which has made it very difficult to assess.

The Insider:

Yes, it’s a confusing disease. Thanks so much for helping us understand it better!

Andrea Kwok:

Of course!

 

Andrea Kwok is the Clinical Director of SPEAR’s West 67th Street location. Andrea earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Delaware. During her time there, she completed a graduate assistantship in the Physical Therapy administrative office and served as class secretary. Prior to her graduate studies, Andrea graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University with a major in exercise science and a minor in Spanish. Andrea was a founding member of the Rutgers club gymnastics team, where she served as team treasurer.


In her professional career, Andrea has experience working with a wide range of orthopedic conditions, inclusive of sports injuries, mechanical pain, neurological pain, and post-operative rehabilitation. She pursues continuing education with a manual focus, intent on refining her ability to address joint, neurodynamic, and soft tissue dysfunction. Andrea is a large proponent of injury prevention and has participated in movement screenings for high school athletes, active adults, and local residents in the community. She is committed to restoring patient strength and function through targeted exercise and movement training.




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