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Yered Badillo, the number one nationally ranked finswim athlete, has a chain secured around his bike that he cannot remove. He forgot the password, product of the consequences that Covid-19 left on his nervous system and that also affects his reaction speed. The 31-year-old athlete chatted with The Economist about her progressive rehabilitation process after suffering from coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), a disease that athletes such as the Olympic medalist have also experienced Paola Espinosa, the pentathlete Mariana Arceo, the golfer Gabriella Lopez, the taekwondo Bryan Salazar Y Fabiola Villegas, among others.

Yered’s first feeling after coming out of isolation was frustration when going up and down some stairs: “I felt like I was falling apart, both muscularly and aerobically I couldn’t. I was between annoyed and frustrated because I had also just competed in the best shape I had been in in recent years”, says who in 2019 won the gold medal in the 4x2000m test in open water and six silver medals (1500m surface, 4x200m surface, 400m surface, 4x50m mixed surface, 200m surface, 800m surface) in the Santa Marta Pan American Championship, Colombia.

The doctors gave him a couple more days of rest and sent him some simple breathing and muscle strengthening exercises to try to gradually recover the four kilos of muscle mass he had lost due to lack of activity and the disease itself. , such as blowing through a straw, blowing up a balloon, or weightless leg extensions while sitting in a chair; In addition to performing studies such as chest X-rays, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, blood and urine tests.

Dr. Leticia Flores, doctor of the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports (conade) who handled Yered’s treatment, pointed out that once the results are obtained, the doctor meets with the athlete’s work team, their coach, psychologist, nutritionist, physical trainer, and from there a routine is established.

Badillo spent two weeks with light exercises in which he even returned to swimming and light cycling until he passed the stress and cardiorespiratory tests. Within five weeks, he was back to his daily routine as his next Open Water World Championships loomed. Currently, he continues to work on exercises that help stimulate the central nervous system, with squats changing speed (going down slowly and going up fast), sensitization exercises with textures and recovering in the hyperbaric chamber.

The specialists of conade follow the guidelines of international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and institutions such as the Spanish Federation of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine in their monitoring protocols for athletes who suffered from covid-19.

After isolating for 15 days and overcoming the disease, the doctor must evaluate the clinical picture presented by the athlete, whether it was mild, moderate or severe. In case of having been asymptomatic, a cardiorespiratory assessment is made “and on that the readaptation process is restarted. Putting it in a very simple context, it is like returning from an injury, it is a progressive adaptation of a load that goes from less to more with excellent monitoring of the recovery parameters”, Dr. Kethzel García Padrón, a doctor, explained to El Economista. of the conade.

García Padrón pointed out that the knowledge of this disease is still developing, however, one of the most common risks that have been found in high-performance athletes who do not present symptoms and who do not respect the progressive recovery process is myocarditis, the inflammation of the heart muscle.

For an athlete who presented symptoms, in addition to providing palliative care and symptom management, at the time of returning to the training program, an exhaustive evaluation of the integrity of the cardiorespiratory system must be made, that is, a detailed evaluation is made of whether there was the cells of the lungs or the heart and based on these results, the form in which it will be returned in a personalized way is determined.

“As long as we guarantee the integrity of these two systems. If we do not have the reliability or the real information on the state of the lungs and the heart of the athletes, then we have to give priority attention to gradually recovering. Until he recovers we start as if he were asymptomatic, with loads from less to more and even more extensive monitoring, “said Dr. Kethzel.

Dr. Leticia Flores shared with this newspaper that most of the athletes who reported to conade their illness presented mild symptoms, such as flu or headache, and that between 10% and 20% of them suffered damage to their organs. The sequelae that usually present are pulmonary, usually in those who suffered a moderate condition; they, in turn, were treated by a pulmonologist.

Flores explained that while the athletes are isolated, the doctors ask them for a log in which they report data such as temperature, oxygenation, symptoms, if there was improvement or setback and “depending on that we review other things. Those who have a lot of respiratory symptoms are asked for a telethorax and if necessary, a chest X-ray is asked to see the damage to the lung or we are just monitoring.

Dr. Kethzel García indicated that the conade and its facilities have the infrastructure required to carry out the monitoring and pertinent studies, “the evaluation of the integrity of the cardiorespiratory system is something that was not developed from Covid-19, but for a few years to carry out morphofunctional evaluations ; some of the most important are stress testing, cardiac stress, and respiratory capacity. All of these are batteries of tests that we have in infrastructure to follow up on all athletes, whether or not they have Covid.”

For Badillo, the recovery also implied a work of patience and awareness; on his return to activity, he was not doing the times he had before the illness. At the Pan American Open Water Championships in Santa Marta, Colombia, in 2019, the athlete set the national record in 1,500 surface meters with a time of 13:20.01.


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