Covid 19 and Physical Therapy

Tonya Bowers
Therapy Director
Abbyshire Place skilled Nursing & Rehab

Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is an illness caused by infection (severe acute respiratory syndrome, which was first identified in a December 2019 outbreak in the city of Wuhan, China, before quickly spreading to several countries across the world.


The virus affects humans and a variety of animals, causing infections that range from very severe, to mild symptoms, and the infection is associated with fever, cough, rhinorrhea, sore throat, anosmia, ageusia, asthenia, mild dyspnea, hyperoxia, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. However, the infection COVID-19 can also progress to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome),leading to severe dyspnea, pneumonia, or even death.

Physical therapy plays an important role in helping combat the COVID-19 pandemic, as they contribute to the prevention and rehabilitation of impairments caused by the COVID-19, they also help with assisting with functional independence and facilitating individuals’ independence so they can return to home, back to work and back to society. There are studies aimed to show the effects of COVID-19 on occupational health, that shows the importance of physical therapy in rehabilitation for getting the ones affected by COVID-19 back up on their feet and moving. Physical therapists must be involved in the fight against Covid-19 to help patients recover physical function and return to home and work as quickly, safely, and effectively as possible. Rehabilitation professionals play a crucial role in the self-isolation period, helping patient optimize their functional independence and improve quality of life. In most studies it shows that, during the isolation period, patients will naturally spend more time sitting or lying down, which will contribute to low endurance extreme fatigue, exercise intolerance, reduced in muscle strength, musculoskeletal symptoms such as myofascial pain and arthralgia, and an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis due to lack of movement. With physical therapy protocol these patients should be doing low-intensity aerobic exercises, muscle strengthening, balance training, as well as stretching.

Patients with COVID-19, especially those with fragile health, must be rehabilitated by a multidisciplinary team. Physical therapists have been highly demanded in hospital settings during the coronavirus pandemic since these professionals make important contributions to treatment and recovery in both the early and late stages of illness for hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

For these reasons, the demand for physical therapists in hospital settings has steadily increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The work and effort of these professionals in the treatment and recovery of individuals with COVID-19 admitted to health care services, in both the early and late stages of the disease, promotes faster recovery and hospital discharge. It is very important that these treatments be offered to patients, especially those who must return to work as soon as possible. Studies show that most patients infected with COVID-19 are actively employed. The symptoms of COVID-19 are less severe in children than in adults, and only a small number of individuals younger than 19 years develop severe symptoms to critical symptoms from COVID-19.

COVID-19 survivors demonstrated that those who participated in a 6-week rehabilitation program showed improvements in lung function, functional capacity, and quality of life. With their participation in rehabilitation they were able to get back up on their feet and return to work,
and able to go back out in the community with their independence.

It is very crucial that rehabilitation professionals provide continued follow-up care to patients infected with COVID-19, especially those who required intensive care and prolonged hospitalization, since, as the study shows, COVID-19 can have short, medium, and long-term
effects on functional mobility and, thereby interfering with the return-to-work, home and society without any limitations.