The researchers found that 45% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 they studied experienced significant functional decline after being discharged.

Over a year after the novel coronavirus cemented its grip on the world, much of the conversation surrounding the disease remains simple: how many people died and how many survived?

But researchers say a devastating side effect between those two extremes has gone underreported—the loss of ability the virus causes.

“Rehabilitation needs were really, really common for these patients,” says Alecia K. Daunter, a pediatric physiatrist at Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan and lead author of the paper in the journal PM&R.

“They survived, but these people left the hospital in worse physical condition than they started. If they needed outpatient therapy or are now walking with a cane, something happened that impacted their discharge plan.”

The researchers reviewed charts of nearly 300 adult patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at Michigan Medicine during the pandemic’s first wave between March and April 2020. They analyzed patients’ discharge locations, therapy needs at the time of release, and if they needed durable medical equipment or other services.

Of survivors who experienced functional decline, 80% were referred for additional therapy after being discharged. Nearly 20% of all patients lost so much ability, they were not able to live independently after their release.

Read the full article about COVID-19 patients at Futurity.