COVID-19 Pandemic. What Should PRM Specialists Do? A Clinician's Perspective

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2020 May 19. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.20.06317-0. Online ahead of print.


Background: COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly spreading all over the world, creating the risk for an healthcare collapse. While acute care and intensive care units are the main pillars of the early response to the disease, rehabilitative medicine should play an important part in allowing COVID-19 survivors to reduce disability and optimize the function of acute hospital setting.

Aim: To share the experience and the international perspective of different rehabilitation centers, treating COVID-19 survivors.

Design: Not applicable.

Population: COVID-19 survivors.

Methods: A group of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation specialists from eleven different countries in Europe and North America have shared their clinical experience in dealing with COVID-19 survivors and how they have managed the re-organization of rehabilitation services.

Results: In our experience the most important sequelae of severe and critical forms of COVID-19 are: 1) respiratory; 2) cognitive, central and peipheral nervous system; 3) deconditioning; 4) critical illness related myopathy and neuropathy; 5) dysphagia; 6) joint stiffness and pain; 7) psychiatric.

Conclusions: We analyze all these consequences and propose some practical treatment options, based on current evidence and clinical experience, as well as several suggestions for management of rehabilitation services and patients with suspected or confirmed infection by SARS-CoV-2.

Clinical rehabilitation impact: COVID-19 survivors have some specific rehabilitation needs. Experience from other centers may help colleagues in organizing their services and providing better care to their patients.