Many Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients Discharged in Worse Physical Condition

Nearly half of COVID-19 patients never received rehabilitation evaluation and 20% lost daily living abilities.

A recent study conducted by investigators from Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan has discovered that nearly half of the patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were discharged with significant loss of ability and functional decline.

Results from the study were published in PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation.

"Physicians and others in the health care system were working appropriately to discharge patients," Alecia K. Daunter, lead author on the study said. "They needed to keep patients safe while maximizing available beds and minimizing exposure to staff. I think that contributed to many people not being assessed by a therapist or PM&R physician. So, the things we do to in the hospital to maximize functioning, like mobility interventions and assessing activities of daily living were, not happening as often."

For the study, the team of investigators analyzed charts of nearly 300 adult patients who were hospitalized for COVID-19 at Michigan Medicine between March and April of 2020.

The investigators reviewed discharge locations, therapy needs at the time of release and if they needed durable medical equipment or other services.

Findings from the study demonstrated that 40% of COVID-19 patients never had a rehabilitation evaluation while hospitalized. Of the COVID-19 survivors who experienced functional decline, 80% were referred for additional therapy after being discharged.

Additionally, almost 20% of all patients lost ability to the point where they were not able to live independently after their release.

"These problems are frequent, and the stakes are pretty high if we miss them, or allow them to progress during hospitalization," Daunter said. "Some of these people were working and many were living independently. To lose that level of function is meaningful. We want to make sure we're addressing those needs, not just looking at the black and white, survival or death."