Two-Thirds of Survivors of the Most Severe COVID-19 Face Impairment at One Year

Physical, psychiatric, and cognitive problems seen in those discharged to long-term acute care hospitals
Two-Thirds of Survivors of the Most Severe COVID-19 Face Impairment at One Year
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

FRIDAY, April 26, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly two-thirds of survivors of severe COVID-19 discharged to long-term acute care hospitals have persistent impairments at one year, according to a study published online April 10 in Critical Care Medicine.

Anil Makam, M.D., from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues investigated impairments among hospitalized adults discharged to one of nine long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs; March 2020 to February 2021) for prolonged severe COVID-19 illness who survived one year. The analysis included 156 individuals who completed surveys.

The researchers found that 61.3 percent of respondents rated their prior health as good. The median length of stay in LTACHs was 57 days. Additionally, three-quarters (77 percent) required mechanical ventilation for a median of 26 days and 42 percent had a tracheostomy. At the time of the survey, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) had a persistent impairment, including physical (57 percent), respiratory (49 percent; 19 percent on supplemental oxygen), psychiatric (24 percent), and cognitive impairments (15 percent). Persistent debility from hospital-acquired complications, including mononeuropathies and pressure ulcers, were reported. Recovery was attributed to exercise/rehabilitation, support, and time. While 78.7 percent did not return to their usual health, participants expressed gratitude for recovering, despite life-altering effects. Nearly all (99 percent) returned home, and 60 percent of previously employed individuals returned to work.

"The long-lasting impairments we observed are common to survivors of any prolonged critical illness, and not specific to COVID, and are best addressed through multidisciplinary rehabilitation," Makam said in a statement.

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