COVID-19: Patient Characteristics in the First Phase of Postintensive Care Rehabilitation

Arch Rehabil Res Clin Transl. 2021 Jun;3(2):100108. doi: 10.1016/j.arrct.2021.100108. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


Objective: To describe clinical characteristics of patients after intensive care unit (ICU) treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who were admitted for inpatient rehabilitation.

Design: A cross-sectional design.

Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation care in the Netherlands.

Participants: All post-ICU patients with COVID-19 admitted to the rehabilitation center between April 2 and May 13, 2020, were invited to participate in the study. Included were patients older than 18 years needing inpatient rehabilitation after ICU treatment for COVID-19 (N=60; mean age, 59.9y; 75% male).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: The following information was collected in the first week of inpatient rehabilitation care: (1) demographics; (2) ICU stay parameters; (3) medical, physical, and functional characteristics; and (4) self-reported symptoms.

Results: The most important findings for rehabilitation were the following: in the first week after discharge to the rehabilitation center, 38.3% of all patients experienced exercise-induced oxygen desaturation, in 72.7% muscle weakness was present in all major muscle groups, and 21.7% had a reduced mobility in 1 or both shoulders. Furthermore 40% had dysphagia, and 39.2% reported symptoms of anxiety.

Conclusion: Post-ICU patients with COVID-19 display physical and anxiety symptoms as reported in other post-ICU patient groups. However, this study showed some remarkable clinical characteristics of post-ICU patients with COVID-19. Rehabilitation programs need to anticipate on this. Long-term follow-up studies are necessary.

Keywords: Adult; Critical care; Inpatients; Rehabilitation.