Role of Rehabilitation Department for Adult Individuals With COVID-19: The Experience of the San Raffaele Hospital of Milan

Sandro Iannaccone, Paola Castellazzi, Andrea Tettamanti, Elise Houdayer, Luigia Brugliera, Francesco de Blasio, Paolo Cimino, Marco Ripa, Carlo Meloni, Federica Alemanno, Paolo Scarpellini

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


The rapid evolution of the health emergency linked to the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 requires specifications for the rehabilitative management of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The symptomatic evolution of patients with COVID-19 is characterized by 2 phases: an acute phase in which respiratory symptoms prevail and a postacute phase in which patients can show symptoms related to prolonged immobilization, to previous and current respiratory dysfunctions, and to cognitive and emotional disorders. Thus, there is the need for specialized rehabilitative care for these patients. This communication reports the experience of the San Raffaele Hospital of Milan and recommends the setup of specialized clinical pathways for the rehabilitation of patients with COVID-19. In this hospital, between February 1 and March 2, 2020, about 50 patients were admitted every day with COVID-19 symptoms. In those days, about 400 acute care beds were created (intensive care/infectious diseases). In the following 30 days, from March 2 to mid-April, despite the presence of 60 daily arrivals to the emergency department, the organization of patient flow between different wards was modified, and several different units were created based on a more accurate integration of patients’ needs. According to this new organization, patients were admitted first to acute care COVID-19 units and then to COVID-19 rehabilitation units, post-COVID-19 rehabilitation units, and/or quarantine/observation units. After hospital discharge, telemedicine was used to follow-up with patients at home. Such clinical pathways should each involve dedicated multidisciplinary teams composed of pulmonologists, physiatrists, neurologists, cardiologists, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and nutritionists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1656-1661
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Coronavirus
  • Critical pathways
  • Neuropsychology
  • Physical therapy modalities
  • Rehabilitation
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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