New Study Finds COVID-19 Survivors Experience New Disabilities After Recovery | PT Effect

New Study Finds COVID-19 Survivors Experience New Disabilities After Recovery

Half of hospitalized patients experience a long recovery from COVID-19
Read Time: 2.5 minutes
Aug 30, 2021

COVID-19 affects everyone differently. Some people had it and didn’t even know they did. Others were hospitalized because of severe symptoms. Across the country, more than half a million people have sadly died because of the virus. Of those who had serious cases of the coronavirus but survived, many are finding that the virus is having a long-term impact on their health.

Researchers have been studying the long-term effects of having COVID-19, especially for those who had a severe enough case of the disease to require hospitalization.

Researchers Find Long Recovery from COVID-19

Researchers studying the impacts of having a severe case of COVID-19 on survivors who were hospitalized found that it can be a long road to recovery for many patients. About half of the patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 are experiencing new disabilities or another form of functional health decline.

Common COVID-19 Misconceptions

Many people believe that if you contract COVID-19, you either die from the disease or you recover and are fine. However, many people who were hospitalized require further care after they’re released from the hospital. 13% of people who were hospitalized with the disease had further care at a nursing or rehabilitation facility after they were discharged from the hospital. Even more, people have lasting symptoms from COVID-19 but are able to go home.

New Disabilities COVID-19 Survivors Experience

Just as there has been a wide range of experiences with the disease itself, people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and survived are now experiencing a range of different symptoms as they take the long road to recovery. Doctors are calling this “long COVID” because these survivors have lasting negative health consequences as a result of having contracted COVID-19.

The lasting effects of COVID-19 can include:

  • Poor physical fitness
  • Lingering brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Lung damage
  • Heart damage
  • Brain damage
  • Autonomic nervous system dysfunction

Plus, just being in the hospital, especially the ICU, can have lasting impacts on a patient’s health, including:

  • Decline in muscle strength
  • Decline in lung capacity
  • Decline in heart capacity
  • PTSD
  • Deconditioning
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Memory impairment

Who Experiences New Disabilities from COVID-19?

Sick young man with blanket coughing

Many people believe that COVID-19 only impacts those who are older or those who are already ill or infirm. However, many of those who are contracting COVID-19 and experiencing negative effects on their health long after being released from the hospital are actually younger, healthy people. Plus, even people who aren’t hospitalized due to COVID-19 can still experience a long recovery period and lasting negative effects on their health.

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Mark Shulman

Dr. Mark Shulman

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), FAAOMPT, COMT, CSCS


Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists.

Mark Shulman

Dr. Allison McKay

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), PRPC


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