Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on intensive rehabilitation after severe acquired brain injuries

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Purpose: COVID-19 pandemic has affected most components of health systems including rehabilitation. The study aims to compare demographic and clinical data of patients admitted to an intensive rehabilitation unit (IRU) after severe acquired brain injuries (sABIs), before and during the pandemic. Materials and methods: In this observational retrospective study, all patients admitted to the IRU between 2017 and 2020 were included. Demographics were collected, as well as data from the clinical and functional assessment at admission and discharge from the IRU. Patients were grouped in years starting from March 2017, and the 2020/21 cohort was compared to those admitted between March 2017/18, 2018/19, and 2019/20. Lastly, the pooled cohort March 2017 to March 2020 was compared with the COVID-19 year alone. Results: This study included 251 patients (F: 96 (38%): median age 68 years [IQR = 19.25], median time post-onset at admission: 42 days, [IQR = 23]). In comparison with the pre-pandemic years, a significant increase of hemorrhagic strokes (p < 0.001) and a decrease of traumatic brain injuries (p = 0.048), a reduction of the number of patients with a prolonged disorder of consciousness admitted to the IRU (p < 0.001) and a lower length of stay (p < 0.001) were observed in 2020/21. Conclusions: These differences in the case mix of sABI patients admitted to IRU may be considered another side-effect of the pandemic. Facing this health emergency, rehabilitation specialists need to adapt readily to the changing clinical and functional needs of patients’ addressing the IRUs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Disorders of consciousness
  • Rehabilitation
  • Severe acquired brain injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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