World Physiotherapy Day 2021

World Physiotherapy Day: Treating Long COVID

While post viral syndromes are not new, COVID-19 has increased awareness of this debilitating syndrome and this year’s World Physiotherapy Day is focused on Long COVID.

One in five people diagnosed with COVID-19 have symptoms after 5 weeks and one in 10 have symptoms 12 weeks after infection. With recent statistics suggesting this may be as high as 30 percent, physiotherapists are at the forefront of assessment and treatment.

The Cardio-Respiratory Special Interest Group (CRSIG) have made the following webinar available to all PNZ members. Featuring Tania Clifton-Smith, this presents an overview of what we need to know about Long COVID and can do in clinical practice.

Watch the webinar


Long COVID Resources and Support

PNZ members are also encouraged to watch the CRSIG webinar The Long Covid, presented by Fy Dunford and Kate Shelver, as well as listen to the Long Covid Physio and AHP Leader podcasts.

Although there have not been many cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand compared to other nations, those who have contracted COVID-19 will be experiencing long term fatigue and limitations in their day to day lives. We know that many will have breathing pattern dysfunction which requires a specific skill set to diagnose and treat.

Physiotherapists are well placed to provide interventions to support these people in our communities.

With this in mind members of the CRSIG would like to support colleagues who may meet those with Long COVID symptoms and encourage you to reach out to their clinicians with a special interest in breathing dysfunction and pulmonary rehabilitation in order to ensure that treatment is optimised.


World Physiotherapy Press Release

17 June 2021

The focus for this year’s World PT Day is rehabilitation and Long COVID and the role of physiotherapists in the treatment and management of people affected by Long COVID.

Long COVID is:

  • common – 1 in 10 of people living with Long COVID will exhibit symptoms for a period of 12 weeks or longer
  • a multi-system disease – there are over 200 listed symptoms which occur in variable combinations and can fluctuate in both predictable and unpredictable patterns
  • the presence of signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19, which continue for 12 weeks or more.

Emma Stokes, World Physiotherapy president, said: “The most common symptoms of Long COVID, after six months, include extreme exhaustion, post-exertional symptom exacerbation, and problems with memory and concentration.

“A physiotherapist can help people living with Long COVID as part of a rehabilitation programme and make sure exercise prescription is approached with care to minimise risk and to ensure exercise programmes are restorative and do not make an individual’s symptoms worse.

“Long COVID is different for everyone. A physiotherapist can help people manage their symptoms and work with them to support their recovery.”

World PT Day toolkit

The World PT Day toolkit includes a range of materials to share the campaign in your country/territory. Please note: the materials may not be amended without the permission of World Physiotherapy.


Page updated August 2021