Considerations for Postacute Rehabilitation for Survivors of COVID-19

JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2020 May 8;6(2):e19462. doi: 10.2196/19462.


Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was first reported on December 31, 2019. Because it has only been studied for just over three months, our understanding of this disease is still incomplete, particularly regarding its sequelae and long-term outcomes. Moreover, very little has been written about the rehabilitation needs of patients with COVID-19 after discharge from acute care. The objective of this report is to answer the question "What rehabilitation services do survivors of COVID-19 require?" The question was asked within the context of a subacute hospital delivering geriatric inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services. Three areas relevant to rehabilitation after COVID-19 were identified. First, details of how patients may present have been summarized, including comorbidities, complications from an intensive care unit stay with or without intubation, and the effects of the virus on multiple body systems, including those pertaining to cardiac, neurological, cognitive, and mental health. Second, I have suggested procedures regarding the design of inpatient rehabilitation units for COVID-19 survivors, staffing issues, and considerations for outpatient rehabilitation. Third, guidelines for rehabilitation (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology) following COVID-19 have been proposed with respect to recovery of the respiratory system as well as recovery of mobility and function. A thorough assessment and an individualized, progressive treatment plan which focuses on function, disability, and return to participation in society will help each patient to maximize their function and quality of life. Careful consideration of the rehabilitation environment will ensure that all patients recover as completely as possible.

Keywords: covid-19; geriatric; infectious disease; inpatient rehabilitation; patient outcome; public health; recovery; rehabilitation; subacute care; treatment; virus.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology
  • Coronavirus Infections / rehabilitation*
  • Coronavirus*
  • Critical Care
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Pandemics*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / rehabilitation*
  • Public Health
  • Quality of Life
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Survivors*