Rehabilitation professionals are frontline health workers who should be engaged in the care of patients who experience severe cases of COVID-19.
Severe cases of COVID-19 require rehabilitation needs related to the consequences of ventilatory support, and prolonged immobilization and bed rest. These may include impaired lung function; physical deconditioning and muscle weakness; delirium and other cognitive impairments; impaired swallowing and communication; and mental health disorders and psychosocial support needs. Rehabilitation needs may be amplified by underlying health conditions and decrements in health associated with aging.
Rehabilitation professionals play an important role in facilitating early discharge, which is especially critical when experiencing hospital bed shortages. Rehabilitation needs of people with severe COVID-19 exist during the acute, sub-acute, and long-term phases of care. Thus, rehabilitation professionals should be positioned in ICUs, hospital wards, stepdown facilities, and in the community. Particularly in the acute phase, rehabilitation interventions for patients with severe COVID-19 requiring ventilatory support generally call for specialist skills.