The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded £782,000 to a new recovery programme to treat people suffering the effects of what is sometimes called Long-Covid.
The Living With Covid Recovery programme works with a consultant doctor, an Allied Health Professional and the patient alongside an app on a smartphone or tablet device, to help rehabilitate people with symptoms of Long-Covid in their own homes.
The programme has been developed with the help of the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations for North Thames and Wessex (NIHR ARC North Thames and Wessex) in partnership with University College London (UCL - the lead research organisation), the University of Southampton, NHS Trusts in London and a company called Living With.
It’s thought that up to 10% of people who have had COVID-19 go on to develop Long-Covid, symptoms of which can include feeling breathless, sad, worried or anxious, aches and pains, loss of appetite, tiredness or fatigue.
Very often these symptoms are linked, so for example if someone is feeling tired and achy, they may not want to exercise, may not feel hungry and therefore feel quite down. The Living With Covid Recovery app works by helping patients through some simple exercises and health tips to break the links between these symptoms, bit-by-bit, with the help of a doctor, nurse or a member of NHS staff. They can check-in with the patient, and offer advice and support through messaging or over the phone.
Professor Elizabeth Murray from the Department of Primary Care and Population Health at UCL, who is leading the study said:
“Long-Covid is a miserable illness, with its fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and mental health sequelae [a condition which is the consequence of a previous disease or injury]. These are all a direct result of the virus. But there are tried and tested ways of helping people with these symptoms and Living With Covid Recovery is designed to help clinicians deliver these treatments to large numbers of patients in a supportive fashion.
We know that people who are using the digital programme feel supported by their clinicians and are seeing their symptoms improve.”
This study is one of a number of COVID-19 studies that have been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as part of its Recovery and Learning project, totalling £5.5m in funding, to help better manage current and future waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and investigate its long-term impacts on the health and care system.