Effectiveness of Respiratory Rehabilitation in COVID-19's Post-Acute Phase: A Systematic Review

Healthcare (Basel). 2023 Apr 8;11(8):1071. doi: 10.3390/healthcare11081071.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the new grave and acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), generated an unprecedented danger to public health. This condition may impact survivors' quality of life and includes extensive pulmonary and respiratory outcomes. Respiratory rehabilitation is known for its effects in improving dyspnea, alleviating anxiety and depression, reducing complications, preventing and ameliorating dysfunctions, reducing morbidity, preserving functions and improving subjects' quality of life. For this reason, respiratory rehabilitation may be recommended for this category of patients.

Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness and benefits produced by the adoption of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programs in COVID-19's post-acute phase.

Material and methods: A search of relevant publications was conducted using the following electronic databases: PubMed, Scopus, PEDro, and Cochrane Library. A single reviser selected pertinent articles that studied the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation during COVID-19's post-acute phase in improving the respiratory function, physical performance, autonomy and quality of life (QoL).

Results: After an initial selection, 18 studies were included in this systematic review, of which 14 concern respiratory rehabilitation delivered in conventional form and 4 concern respiratory rehabilitation provided in telehealth.

Conclusions: Pulmonary rehabilitation combining different types of training-breathing, aerobic, fitness and strength-and not bypassing the neuropsychological aspects revealed itself to be capable of improving pulmonary and muscular functions, general health and quality of life in post-acute COVID-19 patients, besides increasing workout capacity and muscle strength, improving fatigue states and reducing anxiety and depression.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; post-acute; pulmonary function; pulmonary rehabilitation; respiratory physiotherapy; telerehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.