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Speech Pathologists Find Success Treating COVID-19 ‘Long-Haulers’


COVID-19 can present itself in a wide variety of symptoms.

Some people have a headache and a mild cough, other are hospitalized struggling to get enough air.

An estimated 10 to 30 percent of COVID-19 patients are what’s dubbed ‘long-haulers’.

They’re still feeling the effects of the virus months after first being diagnosed.

Speech language pathologist with Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital Megan Luttrell says even within the COVID long-haulers there’s a wide range of symptoms.

“Some people are having issues with cognitive functioning. It may be causing a brain fog or maybe some trouble with remembering or attention or planning and organization. Some people might be having trouble swallowing. They may feel like they are choking or strangling when they eat or drink,” said Luttrell.

For these types of symptoms, Luttrell says speech pathology work can help ease the symptoms.

She works with patients to perform exercises that can help improve memory and organization.

For those struggling with swallowing, she may recommend diet changes or vocal exercises.

“I think we just don’t know enough yet about how long it’s going to take to recover, if people are going to have recovery. We just don’t know enough. But we can work with people to help improve their quality of life and try to help get them back to as much to normal as we can,” said Luttrell.

She said speech pathology can also help people who were on ventilators for an extended period of time and may be struggling to talk.

Luttrell said people may have had a mild case of COVID initially and then develop these long-hauler symptoms later one without realizing there is a connection.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, Luttrell recommends talking with your medical provider.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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