How can Physical Therapy help you recover from Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome?


Therapist Blog by OrthoBethesda Physical Therapy Department

The long term health consequences after having COVID-19 are not yet fully understood, but researchers and clinicians are learning more on a daily basis.  Although many people who have had COVID recover quickly and fully, there are also patients who have recovered from the acute phase of the infection but are unable to return to their pre-COVID health status or baseline function even after 6 months.  This cluster of common signs and symptoms has been referred to in the literature and in the media by different names including “long COVID” and “post-COVID syndrome”.  People struggling with these symptoms have been called “long haulers”.  The CDC has been reviewing literature on these health issues and uses the term “post-acute COVID-19 syndrome”.

This syndrome is not only affecting people that have had severe initial COVID symptoms with hospital admission but also people who had relatively mild initial symptoms and recovered quickly at home without hospitalization.  Some of the most commonly reported residual symptoms for weeks and even months after infection are: fatigue, muscle weakness and pain, joint pain, balance loss, shortness of breath, headaches, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression and difficulty concentrating.

Physical therapists have become an integral part of the healthcare team to help people recover and return to their previous levels of function.  Some of the more common post-COVID symptoms (fatigue, pain, weakness, balance loss, shortness of breath and certain types of headaches) can be successfully treated with outpatient physical therapy.  The author of a recently published study in the Journal of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation stated that formal physical therapy programs performed “significantly better” than informal and unstructured exercise or no exercise at all.

As with acute COVID, post-acute COVID-19 syndrome can have a variety of presentations and different degrees of severity.  Successful physical therapy relies on a comprehensive physical exam that identifies individual needs.  After a properly conducted initial evaluation, a physical therapist and a patient can work together to create and implement a customized program that is specifically responsive to those needs.  The evaluation process may also include identifying signs and symptoms that need to be further evaluated by a medical doctor or other types of healthcare providers.

Schedule Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome Rehabilitation Near You

We invite you to contact our OrthoBethesda Physical Therapy team to find out more about our Post-Acute COVID-18 Syndrome Rehabilitation program and other therapy services that we offer at our Bethesda, MD, treatment center. When you schedule your appointment, we’ll determine the best course of treatment, which could include Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome Rehabilitation. Call us today at (240) 482-2438 to learn more.


Steere HK, Polich G, Silver JK, Hameed F, Gellhorn AC, Borg-Stein J, Schneider JC. Ambulatory Rehabilitation of Patients Hospitalized with SARS CoV-2 Infections: Early Pandemic Experience in New York City and Boston. PM R. 2020 Oct 7:10.1002/pmrj.12506. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12506. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33025674; PMCID: PMC7675300.