45% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 left the hospital in “worse physical condition” after being discharged, according to a University of Michigan study.
The study was published in PM&R, the official peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R). PM&R was created in 2009 “specifically for the physical medicine and rehabilitation physician,” according to its official website. The publication’s stated goal is “to advance education and impact the specialty through the timely delivery of clinically relevant and evidence-based research and review information.”
In the study conducted by the University of Michigan, 300 adult patients who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 at Michigan Medicine were evaluated in the Spring of 2020. “[Researchers] analyzed patients’ discharge locations, therapy needs at the time of release and if they needed durable medical equipment or other services,” according to the study summary.
Investigators found that “45% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 experienced significant functional decline after being discharged.”
The study goes on to say that “[o]f survivors who experienced functional decline, 80% were referred for additional therapy after being discharged. Nearly 20% of all patients lost so much ability, they were not able to live independently after their release.”
Alecia K. Daunter, M.D.—a pediatric physiatrist at Michigan Medicine and the study’s lead author—emphasized how common it was for hospitalized COVID patients to require rehabilitation.
“Rehabilitation needs were really, really common for these patients,” said Dr. Daunter, adding, “They survived, but these people left the hospital in worse physical condition than they started. If they needed outpatient therapy or are now walking with a cane, something happened that impacted their discharge plan.”
Daunter revealed that many of these patients “needed to move to a subacute facility, or they might have needed to move in with a family member, but they were not able to go home.” “This has a massive impact on patients and their families—emotionally and physically,” she lamented.
But Dr. Daunter also revealed that because 40% of patients never had a rehabilitation evaluation while hospitalized in the first place, the number of patients losing ability is “underreported.”
Jon Fleetwood is Managing Editor for American Faith.