Early physical therapy in patients with severe COVID-19 can reduce hospitalization days

  • A retrospective study by IDIBELL and the Bellvitge University Hospital shows that starting physical rehabilitation of patients admitted to the UCRI with severe COVID-19 before seven days reduces hospitalization time.
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A retrospective study of patients with severe COVID-19 admitted to the UCRI of Bellvitge University Hospital between March and May 2020 showed that those who started physical rehabilitation within seven days of admission significantly reduced their hospital stay.

Physiotherapy for patients phisical rehabilitation admitted to the UCRI is widely recommended. However, during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of contagion among health personnel, added to the lack of data on the best time to start rehabilitation and the procedure to follow, led to not following a standardized protocol and carrying out very diverse approaches.

Now, a study by the Pneumology research group at IDIBELL and the Bellvitge University Hospital published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine has evaluated the impact and safety of early physical rehabilitation. The study that includes 159 patients shows that patients with an early approach reduce hospital stay to an average of 19 days, while those who start rehabilitation after seven days of admission have an average stay of 34 days.

The work also shows that none of the physiotherapists involved in early rehabilitation were infected with the coronavirus. No adverse effects of early rehabilitation were identified in patients.



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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