Muscle Strength and Physical Performance in Patients Without Previous Disabilities Recovering From COVID-19 Pneumonia

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2021 Feb 1;100(2):105-109. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001641.


In this cross-sectional study, we evaluated skeletal muscle strength and physical performance (1-min sit-to-stand and short physical performance battery tests), dyspnea, fatigue, and single-breath counting at discharge from a postacute COVID department, in patients recovering from COVID-19 pneumonia who had no locomotor disability before the infection.Quadriceps and biceps were weak in 86% and 73% of the patients, respectively. Maximal voluntary contraction for quadriceps was 18.9 (6.8) kg and for biceps 15.0 (5.5) kg (i.e., 54% and 69% of the predicted normal value, respectively). The number of chair rises in the 1-min sit-to-stand test was 22.1 (7.3 corresponding to 63% of the predicted normal value), whereas the short physical performance battery score was 7.9 (3.3 corresponding to 74% of the predicted normal value). At the end of the 1-min sit-to-stand test, 24% of the patients showed exercise-induced desaturation. The single-breath counting count was 35.4 (12.3) corresponding to 72% that of healthy controls. Mild-to-moderate dyspnea and fatigue were found during activities of daily living (Borg scale score, median value = 0.5 [0-2] and 1 [0-2]) and after the 1-min sit-to-stand (Borg scale score, median value = 3 [2-5] and 1 [0-3]). Significant correlations were observed between muscle strength and physical performance indices (R = 0.31-0.69).The high prevalence of impairment in skeletal muscle strength and physical performance in hospitalized patients recovering from COVID-19 pneumonia without previous locomotor disabilities suggests the need for rehabilitation programs after discharge.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Functional Performance*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / physiopathology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2