A Retrospective Study: How Physical Therapy Impacts COVID-19 Patients

Adele Myszenski, PT, MSPT, was recently awarded the 2020 Acute Care Research Grant to apply towards her goal of learning the role of physical therapy and rehabilitation on patients recovering from COVID-19. She hopes this research will help healthcare providers understand more about how COVID-19 affects patients and how to provide better care.

Despite economic challenges created by COVID-19, the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR) continues to advance physical therapy research to improve the quality of care. Among the many other challenges created by this pandemic, knowledge of its long-term negative implications on health — especially respiratory failure – has been scarce. Accordingly, FPTR recently funded a $40,000 research grant to better understand how physical therapy impacts patients recovering from COVID-19.

This 2020 $40,000 Acute Care Research Grant (ACRG) was awarded to Adele Myszenski, PT, MSPT, of Henry Ford Hospital. Myszenski is applying this grant towards her project titled, “Characteristics and Impact of Physical Therapy for Hospitalized Adult Patients with COVID-19: An Observational Retrospective Study.” This award was made possible by a donation by the Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy.

COVID-19 is still a relatively new and unique virus. Consequently, no concrete research has been published explaining how best to rehabilitate recovering patients. “Our research will support that physical therapy is safe, feasible, and appropriate for patients suffering from COVID and its physiologic impact on the body,” said Myszenski.

Myszenski has always understood the importance of evidence-based practice in advancing patient growth and proving the value of physical therapists. However, researchers still struggle with disseminating data that supports the profession’s growth due to limited time and money. Therefore, Myszenski is grateful to organizations like FPTR that prioritize funding physical therapy research. “I felt applying for this grant would help us achieve our goal of further adding to literature supporting the great work acute care therapists do each day to improve the lives of our patients.”

While COVID-19 has impacted the way physical therapists administer care, Myszenski believes it has also allowed them to adapt to address the unique needs of patients and improve delivery of care. However, she emphasizes that certain vital aspects of physical therapy have not changed. “At the core of physical therapy, we provide a human touch and hope for a better recovery based on evidence-based care, and that has not changed.”

Myszenski also stresses the importance of building a solid foundation of future physical therapist researchers and clinicians and urges researchers to find mentorship and continue applying for funding.

“I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to work on research through FPTR. Clinician-researchers are a key component to evidence in our field and it is vital that future applicants find mentorship. It is equally important to develop a solid research plan before applying for any funding. More importantly, just don’t give up, keeping seeking opportunities to measure the value you add to our patients lives.”

Select Foundation Grants and Scholarships Awarded