The Brunt of the Long COVID Patient Burden May Fall on Primary Care, says Rehabilitation Medicine Expert

NYU Langone Rusk Rehabilitation medical director Steven Flanagan, MD, discusses the "second crisis" of the pandemic and the impact on primary care.

People who become aware that they have lingering symptoms after a COVID-19 infection will most likely consult their primary care clinician first, says American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) president-elect Steven Flanagan, MD.

Flanagan, in a recent conversation with Patient Care, said that while the number of specialty clinics established to care for this expanding population is growing, the current estimate that 27 million Americans have or have had post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 signals that the supply of health care services is already significantly outstripped by demand.

In this video, Flanagan underscores the huge task ahead for primary care clinicians. He also highlights AAPM&R work with multidisciplinary collaborators to define standards of care for long COVID and to widely disseminate educational materials, particularly to primary care. More information on the AAPM&R work is below.


Steven R. Flanagan, MD, is president-elect of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Chair, Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Grossman School of Medicine Medical Director, Rusk Rehabilitation, New York University Langone Health, in New York, New York. (Twitter: @flanagan_RUSKmd)


In March 2021, AAPM&R launched the multidisciplinary post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) Collaborative of experts with an overarching goal to foster engagement and share experiences across disciplines and specialties that will move the US health care system towards defining standards of care for persons experiencing long COVID-19/PASC.

To date the Collaborative has published 4 consensus guidance statements on the assessment and treatment of complications in patients with post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2. Please take time to review the AAPM&R guidance statements on long COVID-associated cardiovascular complications, cognitive symptoms, breathing discomfort, and fatigue.