Long COVID and rehabilitation

J Formos Med Assoc. 2023 Apr 13:S0929-6646(23)00107-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jfma.2023.03.022. Online ahead of print.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused tremendous morbidity and mortality worldwide. The large number of post-COVID survivors has drawn attention to the management of post-COVID condition, known as long COVID. This review examines current knowledge of long COVID, regarding its epidemiology, mechanism, and clinical presentations in both adults and children. We also review the rehabilitation principles, modules, and effects, and share Taiwan's efforts to provide a top-down, nationwide care framework for long COVID patients. Dyspnea, chronic cough, and fatigue are the most commonly reported symptoms in the first 6 months after infection, but cognitive impairment and psychological symptoms may persist beyond this time. Several possible mechanisms behind these symptoms were proposed, but remained unconfirmed. These symptoms negatively impact individuals' function, activities, participation and quality of life. Rehabilitation is a key element of management to achieve functional improvement. Early management should start with comprehensive evaluation and identification of red flags. Exercise-based therapy, an essential part of management of long COVID, can be conducted with different modules, including telerehabilitation. Post-exertional symptom exacerbation and orthostatic hypotension should be carefully monitored during exercise. Randomized control trials with a large sample size are needed to determine the optimal timing, dosage, and modules.

Keywords: Activities of daily living; COVID-19; Long COVID; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review