Mesquite

Firefighter Uses COVID-19 Reconditioning Program to Beat Lasting Effects

Recovery from long-lasting symptoms can take months and can require medical help, as a Mesquite Fire Department firefighter recently found out.

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For a lot of people, getting over COVID-19 is more than getting over just the initial illness.

Recovery from long-lasting symptoms can take months and can require medical help, as a Mesquite Fire Department firefighter recently found out.

Rob Williams said he had hoped the worst was over after being released from his COVID-19 stay at the hospital.

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Weeks, even months later, he suffered from fatigue, joint pain and anxiety that he would never return to normal health.

"I’ve had injuries before. They can always give you like, 'This will take you 4-6 weeks to recover,'" he said. "With this, it is was like, 'We don’t know for how long it’s going to take.' And that mental side may be harder than dealing with the sickness."

"I had joint pain so bad that it hurt to walk. If I made it into the kitchen, I was tired and had to lay down and take a break," he said.

Those long-term symptoms are why Baylor Scott & White launched its COVID-19 reconditioning program, specially designed to use occupational and speech therapy to treat COVID-19-related conditions like brain fog, weakness and decrease in endurance.

"If they can't clean their house, if they can't walk to the grocery store, if they can't care for their children, we are going to specifically address those needs," said Stefanie McNeal, director of quality management at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation Outpatient Therapy.

She said 40% of program participants so far were never hospitalized for their COVID-19 infections.

Specialists monitor vital signs to slowly help patients regain their strength and endurance.

Williams has spent months in the program.

"When I first walked into rehab, I couldn't walk two minutes. I was out of breath, winded and in pain," he said.

At his most resect session, he said he was able to run three miles.

"I need to get back to doing what I love and it's been hard to just sit, so it's been tough and I'm excited about it," he said.

Anyone who's had COVID-19 can enroll in the program with a doctor's referral.

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