Feasibility and Efficacy of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation After COVID-19

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2020 Oct;99(10):865-869. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001549.


The COVID-19 pandemic affects a large number of patients with a rapid progression of respiratory failure often requiring hospitalization or intensive care unit treatment in some patients. Survivors of severe COVID-19 experience persistent weakness and cardiorespiratory failure. Feasibility and potential benefit of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation after COVID-19 remains unclear. Therefore, we retrospectively analyzed a cohort of COVID-19 patients in a single-center inpatient rehabilitation clinic and describe performance and outcome during cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.Patients were referred from acute care hospitals for rehabilitation after severe COVID-19. The cohort (N = 28) was divided in ventilated or not ventilated patients for further analysis. Fifty percent were female, the mean age was 66 yrs, and patients stayed in the acute hospital for 19.3 ± 10.7 days before referral for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. Seventeen patients (61%) needed previous intensive care unit treatment in the acute care hospital. Risk factors, assessments, and questionnaires on admission were comparable in both groups. Significant enhancements were observed in 6-min walking test and feeling thermometer, which were independent of previous ventilation status.In conclusion, comprehensive cardiopulmonary rehabilitation after COVID-19 is safe, feasible, and effective. Improvements in physical performance and subjective health status were independent of previous ventilation.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Coronavirus Infections / rehabilitation*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / rehabilitation*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Treatment Outcome