Outcomes Among Patients Referred to Outpatient Rehabilitation Clinics After COVID-19 diagnosis - United States, January 2020-March 2021

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Jul 9;70(27):967-971. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7027a2.


As of June 30, 2021, 33.5 million persons in the United States had received a diagnosis of COVID-19 (1). Although most patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, recover within a few weeks, some experience post-COVID-19 conditions. These range from new or returning to ongoing health problems that can continue beyond 4 weeks. Persons who were asymptomatic at the time of infection can also experience post-COVID-19 conditions. Data on post-COVID-19 conditions are emerging and information on rehabilitation needs among persons recovering from COVID-19 is limited. Using data acquired during January 2020-March 2021 from Select Medical* outpatient rehabilitation clinics, CDC compared patient-reported measures of health, physical endurance, and health care use between patients who had recovered from COVID-19 (post-COVID-19 patients) and patients needing rehabilitation because of a current or previous diagnosis of a neoplasm (cancer) who had not experienced COVID-19 (control patients). All patients had been referred to outpatient rehabilitation. Compared with control patients, post-COVID-19 patients had higher age- and sex-adjusted odds of reporting worse physical health (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.8), pain (aOR = 2.3), and difficulty with physical activities (aOR = 1.6). Post-COVID-19 patients also had worse physical endurance, measured by the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) (p<0.001) compared with control patients. Among patients referred to outpatient rehabilitation, those recovering from COVID-19 had poorer physical health and functional status than those who had cancer, or were recovering from cancer but not COVID-19. Patients recovering from COVID-19 might need additional clinical support, including tailored physical and mental health rehabilitation services.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis
  • COVID-19 / rehabilitation*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Young Adult