COVID-19 Story Tip: What Will It Take to Get Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients Ready for Discharge?

05/19/2020

Recovery for patients who are COVID-19 positive and who are admitted to the hospital frequently includes a stay in the intensive care unit, often for long periods of time, and long ICU stays can sometimes lead to complications. According to Johns Hopkins experts, doctors need to tend to the patient’s current medical needs while considering the long-term health implications from a long ICU hospitalization, which may include significant rehab to help them recover.

Johns Hopkins Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation teams have put into practice years of experience and training, and implemented an interdisciplinary approach to providing rehab care to patients who are COVID-19 positive that includes multiple sessions of therapy per day while a patient is still in the hospital, oftentimes in the intensive care unit. This is a unique approach not currently used by many hospitals in the nation, but Johns Hopkins experts say physiatrists around the globe should implement it in their health systems.

The unique approach includes physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and rehab psychologists assisting patients who are COVID-19 positive and who are medically ready to get up and move much sooner, while preparing patients for a smooth transition to home or outpatient rehab. Survivors of COVID-19 are often deconditioned and debilitated, and have a hoarse voice and some trouble swallowing. The interdisciplinary approach is critical to getting impaired patients prepared to successfully re-integrate into their home and the community.

April Pruski, M.D. assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, is available for comment on the early rehab measures the teams must take to mobilize patients who are COVID-19 positive while still in the hospital.

For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the coronavirus information page. For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit the coronavirus resource center.