Rehab exercises after covid-19


Gobinath Jayaraman, Head - Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Aster Hospital, Mankhool-Dubai

Who needs Physical Rehab and what kind of physiotherapy should be prescribed?

People who have been affected directly by the COVID - 19 virus or who have limited physical activity due to self-isolation may face issues such as – increased fatigue, weakness, difficulty breathing, decreased endurance, and reduced balance. These are some symptoms to look out for.

Physiotherapists perform a thorough evaluation that include monitoring of vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing function, balance testing, strength and flexibility testing, and activity tolerance then develop a plan to progress safely to the highest level of function. 

Rehabilitation may help to reduce the effects of COVID – 19 on the morbidity and mobility of patients. Patients, those with pre-existing co-morbidities such as heart diseases, diabetes, etc may have complications during the COVID treatment, leading to them having a longer stay at the hospital or sometimes even being put under ventilators. This can affect their bodily functions, movements, speech etc.

Rehabilitation needs as well as rehabilitation outcomes are based on several factors such as:

  • Long term ventilation 
  • Immobilization 
  • Deconditioning 
  • Related impairments – respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal 


What are some of the common prescribed rehab exercises that recovered patients are prescribed?

Manual therapy: Improving chest and stomach expansion so the lungs can work to their full capacity 

Stretching techniques that incorporate breathing 

Special tools and other equipment to improve soft tissue mobility and reduce restriction for breathing 

Corrective exercise: Strengthening the diaphragm and postural muscles used to optimize breathing 

Specific breathing techniques to help strengthen the muscles used in breathing 

Postural exercises to optimize breathing mechanics 

Training efforts to maintain proper mechanics and posture during daily tasks 

Balance and gait training: Reintegrating oneself safely into more physical activities and allows for better mobility and muscle strength  

Goal-oriented functional activities: Providing comprehensive treatments focused on patient-specific goals in order to improve quality of life 

For how long is a patient normally prescribed physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy throughout hospitalization  

It is always better to start rehabilitation during hospital stay. If a patient is under recovery and is well enough to attend a therapy session, it is always advised to start the recovery process.

Post discharge

The first two weeks after hospital discharge or after symptoms of active COVID-19 infection have subsided, the patient can be contact via telephone or video calling to understand the degree of the patient’s physical functioning and understand if there is need for any additional therapy or prescribe any therapy sessions for them. 

Usually, post discharge, if the patient require guidance and support to move around or requires help with daily activities, physiotherapy is strictly recommended.