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Functional Decline Common in Adults Hospitalized for COVID-19

More than 40 percent of survivors were not assessed by physical medicine and rehab professionals during hospitalization

FRIDAY, May 28, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Forty-five percent of adults hospitalized for COVID-19 experienced functional decline impacting survival, according to a study published online April 30 in PM&R.

Alecia K. Daunter, M.D., from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the prevalence of functional decline and related rehabilitation needs at hospital discharge for 288 hospitalized adults with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, with admission dates between March 4 and May 1, 2020.

The researchers found that almost 20 percent of COVID-19 survivors were discharged to a location that was not their home. Overall, functional decline impacting discharge was experienced by 45 percent of the survivors. Of the survivors who showed functional change during hospitalization, 80.6 percent were referred for additional therapy at discharge. Of these, at discharge, at least 67.6 percent required durable medical equipment (no clear documentation in 12 cases). Of the survivors who showed functional changes, 26.7 percent had ongoing dysphagia at the time of hospital discharge. During their hospitalization, 40.6 percent of the survivors were not assessed by a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, physical therapist, occupational therapy, or speech language pathologist.

“Physicians and others in the health care system were working appropriately to discharge patients,” Daunter said in a statement. “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.”

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