The future of axial spondyloarthritis rehabilitation – lessons learned from COVID-19

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Abstract



Supervised physical therapy and rehabilitation are vital for effective long-term management of axial spondyloarthritis (SpA). However, the unprecedented year of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a drastic change in health care provision across all disease areas. In this review, we summarize changes that have been introduced to support rehabilitation in axial SpA during the pandemic and considerations for the future of axial SpA rehabilitation in the wake of COVID-19. We have witnessed the launch of online virtual physical therapy and education, in addition to an emphasis on remote monitoring. We have been propelled into a new era of digital service provision; not only providing a temporary stop-gap in treatment for some patients, but in the future, potentially allowing for a wider reach and provision of care and resilience of vital services. Unique collaboration between patients, health care professionals, and researchers will be key to fostering relationships and trust and facilitating wider evaluation and implementation of digital services at each stage in a patient's journey, which is imperative for relieving pressure from health care providers. Despite the potential of such digital interventions, it is important to highlight the maintained critical need for face-to-face services, particularly for vulnerable patients or during diagnosis or a flare of symptoms. It is also vital that we remain vigilant regarding digital exclusion to avoid further widening of existing health inequalities. Optimization of digital infrastructure, staff skills, and digital education alongside promoting accessibility and engagement and building trust among communities will be vital as we enter this new age of blended in-person and digital service provision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-49
Number of pages6
JournalArthritis Care & Research
Volume74
Issue number1
Early online date10 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022

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