Safe and effective rehabilitation is a fundamental part of recovery from illness and can improve function for people living with disability.
World Physiotherapy has published a new briefing paper, Safe rehabilitation approaches for people living with Long COVID: physical activity and exercise. The briefing paper presents considerations for safe rehabilitation specific to physical activity, including exercise or sport, for people living with Long COVID.
The statements presented in the briefing paper may be used by physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals, assessing and treating people living with Long COVID, to consider how post-exertional symptom exacerbation, cardiac impairment, exertional oxygen desaturation, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction impact on safe prescription of rehabilitation, including physical activity.
The paper is the result of efforts from key opinion leaders and stakeholders from across the global community in Long COVID and physiotherapy. Individuals from across the World Physiotherapy regions, community groups, organisations, interdisciplinary clinical practice, and academia have collaborated to identify statements on safe rehabilitation approaches for people living with Long COVID.
Darren Brown, a physiotherapist, person living with Long COVID and co-founder of Long COVID Physio, said: “This briefing paper is led by people living with Long COVID, in collaboration with community and allies, centring the expertise of those living with and affected by Long COVID. This briefing paper presents vital considerations for the prescription of rehabilitation. Safe and effective rehabilitation is a fundamental part of recovery from illness and can improve function in people living with disability. Millions of people globally are living with Long COVID and experiencing disability, and disability inclusion must be central to all responses to Long COVID. This paper addresses an existing literature gap, to support communities, clinicians, researchers, service providers and policy makers in delivering safe rehabilitation approaches.”
Tracy Bury, World Physiotherapy deputy chief executive officer, said: “Physiotherapists can play an important role in the rehabilitation of people living with Long COVID, to guide the need for safe and effective rehabilitation that recognises the complexity and variability for those with Long COVID. This requires physiotherapists to consider other factors important in symptom management, beyond solely physical activity.
“This paper presents a best practice guide and will be invaluable for physiotherapists in different locations and settings.”
The briefing paper is the latest in a series of briefing papers produced by World Physiotherapy on a range of issues related to COVID-19, and is available in a range of languages.