Content » Vol 52, Issue 7

Special report

Why Rehabilitation must have priority during and after the COVID-19-pandemic: A position statement of the Global Rehabilitation Alliance

Christoph Gutenbrunner, Emma K. Stokes, Karsten Dreinhöfer, Jan Monsbakken, Stephanie Clarke, Pierre Côté, Isabelle Urseau, David Constantine, Claude Tardif, Venkatesh Balakrishna, Boya Nugraha
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Coordination Centre for Rehabilitation Research, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, DE-30625 Hannover, Germany
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2713


COVID-19 has become a pandemic with strong influence on health systems. In many cases it leads to a disruption of rehabilitation service provision. On the other hand, rehabilitation must be an integral part of COVID-19 management. Rehabilitation for COVID-19 should start from acute and early post-acute care and needs to be continued in the post-acute and long-term rehabilitation phase. Of course, it should follow specific safety protocol. Additionally, rehabilitation must be kept available for all other people who are in need. From the perspective of health system, the Global Rehabilitation Alliance urges decision makers to ensure that rehabilitation services will be available for all patients with COVID-19 in the acute, post-acute and long-term phase. Additionally, it must be ensured that all other persons with rehabilitation need have access to rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation services must be equipped with personal protection equipment and follow strict hygiene measures. In particular, rehabilitation must be accessible for vulnerable populations. For that reason, rehabilitation must be kept a health priority during the COVID-19 pandemic and given adequate financial resources. Last but not least, scientific studies should be performed to clarify the impact of the pandemic on rehabilitation services as well as on the needs for rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients.

Lay Abstract

Since December 2019, COVID-19 has become worldwide pandemic. Rehabilitation as an important health strategy is disrupted during this pandemic. Rehabilitation is an integral part in management COVID-19 related health problems. Thus, rehabilitation should be privided from acute until long-term rehabilitation care during and after COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Rehabilitation Alliance as a worldwide collaborative body of civil society organizations with expertise in rehabilitation urges decision-makers to ensure that rehabilitation services are available for COVID-19 patients in the acute, post-acute and long-term phase of the disease. It also must be ensured that all other patients with rehabilitation need and, in particular, vulnerable populations have continuous access to rehabilitation services. All rehabilitation services providers must adequately equipped with personal protective equipment and follow strict hygiene measures. This, rehabilitation must be maintained as priority in health systems. Scientific studies related to COVID-19 and rehabilitation are needed.


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