Early mobility may aid severe Covid-19 recovery

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Exercise and getting people mobile early on in their rehabilitation from severe Covid-19 may help improve recovery, research has indicated.

A review of all the available evidence on whether rehabilitation benefitted patients admitted to intensive or critical care with respiratory illnesses – as information on people with Covid-19 was not available when the study began – found that progressive exercise and early mobility may aid recovery, as well as rehabilitation programmes with a number of different components.

The University of Exeter paper, Rehabilitation to enable recovery from Covid-19: a rapid systematic review, found that rehabilitation can give patients hope, although programmes needed to be tailored to the individual for the best results to be seen.

It is published in the journal Physiotherapy and looks at evidence gathered in 24 systematic reviews, 11 randomised control trials and eight qualitative studies.

Study lead Vicki Goodwin, associate professor of ageing and rehabilitation at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Covid-19 can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, long after they leave hospital. We urgently need to find the best ways to support people to regain their health, both in hospital and when they return home.

“Our research found that getting people moving early on is a key component that can help shape rehabilitation programmes, to get people back on their feet as swiftly as possible.”

Co-author Sallie Lamb, professor of health innovation at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Rehabilitation is a crucial element of Covid-19 care that must not be overlooked. As Covid-19 is still so new, there’s no evidence that evaluate the benefits of rehabilitation programmes for those in recovery. We now urgently need research to evaluate the benefit of programmes to patients with Covid-19 specifically.”

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