In a new study, researchers found that patients recovering from COVID-19 who had a course of physical therapy in the hospital had a lower incidence of mortality compared to those who did not.
The research was conducted by a team at Montefiore Hospital.
Although evidence shows that physical therapy improves mobility and probably mortality, many patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are not prescribed therapy.
In the study, the team compared mortality incidence between patients who did and did not receive therapy.
They included 1,314 patients admitted to a community-based, suburban hospital for COVID-19 between March 1 and May 31, 2020.
Patients were separated into two study groups: those who received physical therapy and those who did not.
The team found that patients who received physical therapy tended to be older, with an average age of 74 compared to 61 for those who did not have therapy.
Patients who received therapy had more comorbidities and were also at a lower level of physical function prior to hospitalization compared to the non-PT group.
When the researchers compared mortality rates between the two patient groups, there was a very surprising finding:
COVID-19 patients who received physical therapy in the hospital had a lower rate of mortality, or 12%, compared to 25% for patients who did not, despite being at a lower level of physical function before they contracted COVID-19, and having higher rates of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
The findings showed that physical therapy improves the mortality outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
The team says that physical therapy should be considered in the treatment paradigm of COVID-19 patients.
It is a non-expensive, safe and effective treatment tool that should be considered in every COVID admission.
One author of the study is Sandeep Yerra, MBBS, Research Fellow.
The study is presented at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting.
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