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Alissa Outhier (right), a speech and language pathologist at St. Mary’s Center for Rehabilitation, teaches exercises to strengthen the muscles used for sound production. (Photo provided)

ENID, Okla. — Although most people with COVID-19 make a full recovery, the virus can leave lingering side effects.

Mild or moderate COVID-19 lasts about two weeks for most people, but some people, called “long-haulers,” experience lingering health problems, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

According to a press release from St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, some of the “perplexing” side effects may include cognitive deficits, shortness of breath and speech and swallowing difficulties, but speech therapy can help resolve these issues and restore a person’s quality of life.

Alissa Outhier, a speech and language pathologist at St. Mary’s Center for Rehabilitation, said in the release that most patients who experience post-COVID-19 difficulties have been hospitalized and haven’t fully recovered.

When a patient is referred to Outhier, she said in the release she performs an initial evaluation to determine the best modifications and treatments for the symptoms the patient is experiencing.

“Some patients might have memory challenges which make it difficult to process information as quickly as they used to. I can work with these people to improve memory, problem solving and organizational skills through cognitive retraining,” Outhier said in the release.

For people who are hoarse or have a breathy quality to their speech due to weak breath support caused by being on a ventilator or having another condition, Outhier teaches exercises to strengthen the muscles used for sound production, the release states.

Swallowing difficulties can be improved by performing strengthening exercises.

Outhier said in the release that most patients will come for outpatient speech therapy twice a week for about a month.

She recommends anyone who has experienced these post-COVID-19 challenges to contact their primary care physician who can make a referral to a speech therapist.

For more information on or to make an appointment at the center, call (580) 237-8278.

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McKendrick is police and court reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. 
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Kelci? Send an email to kelcim@enidnews.com.

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