Effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation in COVID-19 respiratory failure patients post-ICU

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2021 May:287:103639. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2021.103639. Epub 2021 Feb 12.


Introduction: Some COVID-19 patients develop respiratory failure requiring admission to intensive care unit (ICU). We aim to evaluate the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) post-ICU in COVID-19 patients.

Methods: Twenty-one COVID-19 patients were evaluated pre- and post-PR and compared retrospectively to a non-COVID-19 group of 21 patients rehabilitated after ICU admission due to respiratory failure.

Results: PR induced greater 6-min walking distance improvement in COVID-19 patients (+205 ± 121 m) than in other respiratory failure patients post-ICU (+93 ± 66 m). The sooner PR was performed post-ICU, the better patients recovered.

Conclusions: PR induced large functional improvements in COVID-19 patients post-ICU although significant physical and psychosocial impairments remained post-PR.

Keywords: COVID-19; Functional recovery; Pulmonary rehabilitation; Respiratory failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / rehabilitation*
  • Critical Care
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / rehabilitation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walk Test