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Intensive care rehabilitation outcomes in COVID-19 compared to other respiratory viruses: an observational evaluation

Stefania T. Spiliopoulou Nottingham University Hospitals, NHS Trust, Nottingham, U.K


Stefania T. SpiliopoulouNottingham University Hospitals, NHS Trust, Nottingham, U.K,,

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Estimating the rehabilitation trajectory of COVID-19 patients and other respiratory viruses (RVs), such as influenza, is essential for seasonal planning of intensive care unit (ICU) rehabilitation services in a post COVID-19 world. This service evaluation compares the differences in time taken to achieve rehabilitation milestones between mechanically ventilated patients in ICU with COVID-19 and other RVs.


A retrospective service evaluation was completed at two ICUs of an acute hospital trust. Adults admitted to ICU with a diagnosis of COVID-19, influenza, H1N1, coronavirus, metapneumovirus and respiratory syncytial virus were included. The review took place between March–June 2020 for COVID-19 patients and December 2016–February 2020 for other RVs. Rehabilitation milestones were measured in days taken to sit out of bed (SOOB), sit on the edge of the bed (SOEOB) and stand, including ICU mobility scale (IMS) on discharge.


109 COVID-19 and 59 RV patients admitted to ICU were included. COVID-19 patients were ventilated for an additional four days (p = 0.036) and had a greater length of ICU stay by five days (p = 0.194). They also required an additional seven and four days to SOOB (p = 0.043) and stand (p = 0.05) respectively. The IMS for COVID-19 patients was five and RV patients scored 4 (p = 0.061).


COVID-19 results in patients requiring longer time-frames to achieve basic rehabilitation milestones when compared to other RVs, although a higher mobility level was achieved. ICU physiotherapy services require advanced planning of resources and staffing during seasonal periods to account for the added pressure of COVID-19, which is expected to continue occupying ICU bedspaces despite the development of a vaccine.

2022 Journal (Vol. 54 Issue 3)
Journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care. Volume 54. Issue 3. 2022. Article on: p5-14
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