Consideration of prevention and management of long-term consequences of post-acute respiratory distress syndrome in patients with COVID-19

Physiother Theory Pract. 2020 Jun;36(6):663-668. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2020.1766181. Epub 2020 May 18.


This manuscript provides support for physical therapists to focus on the long-term, as well as the short-term, consequences of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) associated with COVID-19. Since late November 2019, COVID-19 has become a global health pandemic and threat. Although most people have no or mild symptoms, COVID-19 spreads aggressively and can lead to ARDS rapidly in a proportion of individuals. The evidence supports that gas exchange and countering the negative effects of bed rest and immobility are priorities in severely affected patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). However, in recent years, research has focused on poor long-term functional outcomes in patients with ARDS, often associated with ICU-acquired weakness, deconditioning, and myopathies and neuropathies. In addition to physical therapists providing respiratory support in the ICU, the literature unequivocally supports the view that early intervention for ICU management of patients with ARDS secondary to COVID-19 needs to focus on reducing contributors to impaired long-term function, with direct attention paid to preventing or managing ICU-acquired weakness, deconditioning, and myopathies and neuropathies, in conjunction with respiratory care.

Keywords: Acute respiratory distress sendrom; Covid-19; Disability; Physical function; Physiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy
  • Critical Care
  • Humans
  • Muscular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Muscular Diseases / virology*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / virology*
  • SARS-CoV-2