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J Acute Care Phys Ther


Objective: To describe the characteristics of patients and investigate the utilization of physical (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) intervention for those with a positive coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) diagnosis compared with other patient populations during the first 6 weeks of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Methods: A retrospective, observational study of adult inpatients with a length of stay of 1 or more days at an urban hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Individuals with a COVID-19 diagnosis were compared with a cohort within similar diagnostic categories (respiratory, fever, and sepsis) but without COVID-19. Outcome measures included PT or OT intervention on 1 or more days, the timing of initial PT or OT visit, the average number of visits and units per patient, length of stay, discharge to home, and readmission within 30 days.

Results: Individuals with COVID-19 had lower rates of discharge to home (P = .001), higher rates of readmission within 30 days of hospital discharge (P = .01), increased hospital length of stay (P = .001), and waited an average of 3.1 days longer for therapy evaluations than subjects in the comparison group (P = .001). The percentage of subjects who had one or more PT or OT visits during their hospital stays was comparable between groups. Once therapy was initiated, the average number of visits per patient and dosing of units in 15-minute increments were similar between the 2 groups.

Conclusions: Patients acutely ill with COVID-19 hospitalized with the virus during the first 6 weeks of the pandemic remained in the intensive care unit and hospital longer than their counterparts without COVID-19 and had a delay in initiation of PT and OT intervention. PT and OT are important members of the care team for patients with the novel coronavirus. Understanding the descriptive characteristics of patients and therapy services during the initial surge could help improve utilization and patient outcomes.

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