The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Rehabilitation Services in a Tertiary Care Hospital in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia: A Single-Center Study

Cureus. 2021 Sep 26;13(9):e18303. doi: 10.7759/cureus.18303. eCollection 2021 Sep.


Objective In this retrospective study, we aimed to investigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on rehabilitation services including outpatient rehabilitation clinic visits, speech therapy, and occupational therapy and physiotherapy sessions. Materials and methods This was a retrospective, observational, single-center study, which included all patients who presented to the rehabilitation clinic at the King Fahad Specialist Hospital, Dammam (KFSHD) from January to August 2020 (study period), and they were matched with parallel groups from 2017 to 2019 (control period). Results A total number of 1,435 patient visits were recorded in the outpatient rehabilitation clinics during the study period as compared to the 1,496 patient visits during the control period. However, the number of patients seen by the speech therapists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists significantly came down from 482, 963, and 171, respectively in the control period to 77, 218, and 130, respectively in the study period. The occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech therapy services were significantly affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusions Our findings revealed the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the outpatient rehabilitation services, which was reflected in the sharp decline in the number of patients who attended the rehabilitation clinics as well as in the reduced number of sessions. The rehabilitation facilities should be better prepared for such pandemics in the future to deliver appropriate and timely rehabilitation programs with a patient-centered approach.

Keywords: covid-19; help-seeking behavior; occupational therapy; pandemic; physiotherapy; rehabilitants; speech.