Rehabilitation and respiratory management in the acute and early post-acute phase. "Instant paper from the field" on rehabilitation answers to the COVID-19 emergency

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2020 Jun;56(3):323-326. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.20.06305-4. Epub 2020 Apr 15.


COVID-19 is a respiratory infectious disease that can cause respiratory, physical and psychological long-term dysfunctions in patients. First recommendations on respiratory management were published, but they were not based on the specific needs due to COVID-19. In this paper we share the early experiences from the clinical field in Northern Italy, where the epidemic started in February. This paper summarizes the second webinar on COVID-19 (230 live attendees, 11,600 viewers of the recorded version) organized by the Italian Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine about rehabilitation and in particular respiratory management in the acute (Intensive Care Unit [ICU]) and immediate post-acute phases. There is the need to prepare for the post-acute phase. ICU length of stay is relatively long, with immobilization in prone position. Some specific problems are described, including severe muscle weakness and fatigue, joint stiffness, dysphagia, (neuro)psychological problems, impaired functioning concerning mobility, activities of daily life and work. A lot is yet unknown and patients can experience long-term consequences as we know from the literature on the postintensive care syndrome, but COVID-19 has unique features to be investigated and understood. As a colleague stated during the Covinar: this is a marathon, not a sprint….

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Critical Care*
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Rehabilitation / organization & administration*
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • SARS-CoV-2