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News Spotlight: Physical Medicine for COVID-19 Survivors

Could physical therapy help support patients’ health following ICU discharge? MedRisk’s Brian Peers, DPT, weighs in.

As the country continues to manage the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it is a relief to see news of patients being successfully weaned from ventilators and leaving the hospital. However, the road to complete recovery often doesn’t end here for COVID-19 survivors.

Brian Peers, DPT, MedRisk’s Vice President of Clinical Services and Provider Management, recently published an article in WorkCompWire about the lasting effects of post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) on COVID-19 survivors. PICS, which refers to new or worsening physical, cognitive or mental impairments that continue after hospitalization for acute critical illness, is an after-effect for about half of patients who survive ICU treatment. The pandemic’s strain on the healthcare system has prompted many patients to be discharged directly to their homes, without the usual supports and with a high risk of readmission. This can present new hurdles for workers, who already struggle to resume daily function and return to work following serious illness. Two notable risk factors for hospital readmission are impaired physical function and unmet need for daily living activities; however, both can be mitigated through treatment with physical and occupational therapists.

Read Dr. Peers’ complete article to learn more about the effects of PICS on patients’ physical and mental health and why workers’ comp payers and providers should anticipate an increase in physical medicine claims for this population in the months ahead.