Physiotherapists are continuing to fight COVID-19 with updated recommendations

The PEDro team pays tribute to physiotherapists and other healthcare workers who are providing frontline care during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Your bravery, dedication and expertise have more than earned the gratitude of the global physiotherapy community.

To support frontline physiotherapists in this work in the face of the mutating virus and its evolving effects, an international group of expert physiotherapists in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy have worked collaboratively to update their consensus recommendations for physiotherapy management of COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting.

The first version of the recommendations for physiotherapy management for COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting was published in April 2020: Thomas P, et al. Physiotherapy management for COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting: clinical practice recommendations. J Physiother 2020;66(2):73-82

In accordance with these authors’ plan to revise and release new versions of the recommendations as more is known about the treatment of COVID-19, a revised set of recommendations has now been published: Thomas P, et al. Physiotherapy management for COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting and beyond: an update to clinical practice recommendations. J Physiother 2022;68(1):8-25

The guideline covers physiotherapy workforce planning and preparation; a screening tool for determining requirement for physiotherapy; and recommendations for the use of physiotherapy treatments and personal protective equipment. New advice and recommendations are provided on: workload management; staff health (including vaccination); providing clinical education; personal protective equipment; and interventions (including awake proning, mobilisation and rehabilitation in patients with hypoxaemia). Additionally, recommendations for recovery after COVID-19 have been added, including roles that physiotherapists can assume in the management of post-COVID syndrome.

The updated guidelines are intended for use by physiotherapists and other relevant stakeholders caring for adult patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in the acute care setting and beyond.

The guidelines have been published in English, but with 17 full-text translations in the online Appendix 2: Bulgarian, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Taiwanese, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese. The PEDro team pays particular tribute to the volunteer translators who provided these translations in time for the publication of the main paper.

For physiotherapists who are already familiar with the original guidelines, the new recommendations and the revised recommendations have been labelled for quick identification.

At the time of their publication, the revised recommendations had already been endorsed by World Physiotherapy, the International Confederation of Cardiorespiratory Physical Therapists, the national physiotherapy associations of seven countries, and eight special interest groups in acute cardiorespiratory physiotherapy, intensive care and related clinical areas.

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