A New Day for Rehabilitation Therapies

We've all seen the moving videos and snapshots of healthcare professionals clapping as patients are discharged from hospital care and reunited with families after being treated for COVID-19. People recovering from COVID-19 and going home to their families should be celebrated, but the story doesn't end there.  The CDC has outlined guidelines to follow for discharging a patient, focused primarily on isolation and transmission issues. The reality is, many of these patients require physical, occupational or speech therapies beyond their hospital stays to help them in their long-term recovery. And even beyond those affected by the virus, patients in need of ongoing therapies—along with others who just need to move and are restricted because of transmission concerns—are facing challenges like never before.

Practitioners and academics alike are writing about the broader effects of post intensive care syndrome (PICS) on COVID-19 patients who have been released from the ICU.1 In general, people who have experienced critical illness have ongoing physical impairments and could benefit from physical or other therapy services after hospital discharge. However, both a lack of awareness of PICS, coupled with the strain on the healthcare community in general, may lead to scarce attention when it comes to rehabilitation services.

In light of this, therapists are rising to the occasion, spotlighting the need and implementing telehealth and other strategies to give their patients the best care. But there's no doubt about it—all of these services are impacted. And those dedicated therapists, working to help the most vulnerable, they're struggling, too.

View more: The COVID-19 patient: what happens after they're discharged