The COVID-19 Rehabilitation Pandemic

Sarah De Biase; Laura Cook; Dawn A. Skelton; Miles Witham; Ruth ten Hove


Age Ageing. 2020;49(5):696-700. 

In This Article

Rehabilitation for People Surviving COVID-19 Infection

The workforce delivering COVID-19 rehabilitation must be able to manage the full range of consequences of COVID-19 infection: breathlessness, fatigue, muscle weakness, delirium, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions, all of which will impact on rehabilitation outcome. Each patient will need an individualised programme, including aerobic exercise, strength training, balance training, breathlessness management, energy conservation, functional and vocational rehabilitation, and psychological support.[14] Such a programme can be delivered effectively only by a multidisciplinary team, which needs to have access to the full range of physical and occupational therapy, medical, nursing, dietetic, psychology and speech and language staff.

Older COVID-19 survivors will not only have deficits that reflect frailty syndromes (for example falls and sarcopenia), which many older people's services are set up to manage. They may also have substantial cardiorespiratory and neurological deficits. As a result, cardiac, pulmonary, neurology and frailty services cannot continue to work in isolation. Instead, specialist services must learn rapidly from each other now to deliver on all aspects of rehabilitation need and models of service delivery need to both combine personnel, knowledge and skills from all of these disease-specific rehabilitation services.