Systematic rapid living review on rehabilitation needs due to COVID-19: update as of April 30th, 2020

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2020 Jun;56(3):354-360. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.20.06378-9. Epub 2020 May 15.


Introduction: This paper adds to the series of systematic rapid living reviews, started in April 2020, to provide the rehabilitation community with updates on the latest scientific literature on rehabilitation needs due to COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this paper is to present the results of a systematic scientific literature search performed on papers published from April 1st to April 30th, 2020.

Evidence acquisition: A systematic search was performed on PubMed, Embase, Scopus, CINAHL, PEDro, Web of Science and the main international guideline databases for articles published (including Epub), in English, from April 1st to April 30th, 2020. Papers were included if they reported on one of the following: 1) prevalence and features of the emerging disability after COVID-19; 2) rehabilitation strategies applied for COVID-19 patients, regardless of setting or stage; 3) information about rehabilitation services after COVID-19; 4) impact on diseases of rehabilitative interest; 5) complications of rehabilitative interest.

Evidence synthesis: Out of 445 articles retrieved for the time frame, 50 were finally included for qualitative analysis. They consist of seven guidelines, one scoping review, one randomized controlled trial, four descriptive studies (qualitative), one case series, one case report, and 35 expert opinions.

Conclusions: This systematic rapid living review showed an increasing evidence on rehabilitation needs due to COVID-19 outbreak during April 2020. The main novelties include: 1) the first appearance of epidemiological data on the likely high incidence of neurological complications/disabling sequelae in patients hospitalized for COVID-19; 2) rapid guidelines on the management of chronically disabled patients in the COVID-19 era; 3) advices to provide COVID-19 patients with early respiratory rehabilitation in the acute phase, and with telemonitoring and telerehabilitation in the post-acute phase. Although the overall quality of studies has increased, prospective cohort studies on disability course in COVID-19 pandemic and experimental studies on the effects of rehabilitation are still warranted.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / rehabilitation*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / rehabilitation*
  • Rehabilitation*
  • SARS-CoV-2