K Georgiev, J McPeake, J Fleuriot, S D Shenkin, A Anand


  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging
  • General Medicine

Abstract Introduction The role of rehabilitation medicine in treating post-acute COVID-19 survivors is currently ill-defined. Recently developed evidence-based initiatives, such as Cochrane REH-COVER, aim to describe the management of COVID-19 patients, but the variance and overlap in intervention types result in clinical uncertainty. Methods We collected evidence regarding performed COVID-19 rehabilitation interventions from studies collected by the Cochrane REH-COVER Rapid living Systematic Reviews between March 2020 and February 2022. We extracted a set of studies highlighting details of COVID-19 rehabilitation programmes in adult hospitalised patients. Our exclusion criteria consisted of removing case reports, opinion pieces, guidelines and review articles. We collected information on the delivered service, intervention type and length of rehabilitation where available. Results Out of 580 REH-COVER studies, 69 met the inclusion criteria. In-hospital interventions were present in 45 (65%) of cases, 14 (20%) were performed in community or home settings, and 10 (14%) were not explicitly defined. 44% of studies were conducted within the initial wave of COVID-19, in the first half of 2020. Among the intervention categories, 38 (55%) studies consisted of physical therapy, 41 (59%) respiratory training, 7 (10%) neurological treatment, 4 (6%) nutritional therapy and 4 (6%) speech and language therapies. Based on review, we inferred that only 34 (49%) of these studies described a multidisciplinary intervention. Among these treatments, the mean length of rehabilitation was 21 days (95% CI: 13-30), compared to 17 days (95% CI: 8-26) for those with a single intervention. However, these data were not reported in 32 (46%) studies. Conclusions There is currently a wide variation in descriptions of rehabilitation interventions for COVID-19 patients. The limited number of papers clearly describing the content and length of rehabilitation programmes reduce the ability to share best practices. Harmonising descriptions of rehabilitation could improve the quality and standardisation of research in this area.

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