Nursing home residents can tolerate moderate-to-high amounts of physical rehabilitation while ill with symptomatic COVID-19, finds a study published in JAMDA.

Despite symptoms such as fever, lethargy and dehydration, rehabilitation during COVID is beneficial, helping decrease the odds of long-term atrophy and improve functional outcomes, the researchers reported. The study was conducted in a nursing home operated by The New Jewish Home in New York. Investigators followed outcomes in 71 long-stay residents and 177 post-acute care recipients with symptomatic COVID for 30 days between March and May 2020. 

Post-acute patients were more likely to receive rehabilitation than long-stay residents, they found. Occupational and physical therapy were provided to nearly 60% of the ill residents, while speech therapy was provided to 13%. Residents who received rehabilitation were more functionally dependent while ill than peers who did not receive therapy. But the rehabilitation group’s functional status declined less than their peers. 

“Clinicians should feel comfortable prescribing rehabilitation at moderate amounts to COVID-19 patients in nursing facilities, if consistent with goals of care,” the authors concluded.