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HKBU launches online rehabilitation for discharged COVID-19 patients

Image Credits: HKBU, Press Release

Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has launched a proprietary Hong Kong Rehabilitation Programme for COVID-19 which aims to deliver comprehensive recovery care to discharged COVID-19 patients by integrating cardiorespiratory and resistance exercise training with the use of Chinese herbal medicine. The Programme will recruit around 170 participants.

Rehabilitation integrating exercise training and Chinese medicine

Discharged COVID-19 patients can experience several debilitating physical and mental changes, such as shortness of breath, impaired lung functions, depression, etc.

To address this, the interdisciplinary team has developed a treatment programme that combines cardiorespiratory exercise, resistance training and inspiratory muscle training along with Chinese herbal medicines to improve systemic metabolic and immune function, as well as pulmonary problem-related clinical symptoms which are evident in discharged COVID-19 patients.

To assess the results of the rehabilitation programme, the team will deploy biochemical tests to assess functional improvements in whole-body metabolism and the gut microbiota of the participants after patients have undergone cardiorespiratory exercise, resistance training and inspiratory muscle training, and/or taken Chinese herbal medicines. The quality of improvements and recovery will also be assessed.

Inviting participation of discharged COVID-19 patients

The team plans to recruit around 170 discharged COVID-19 patients for a free-of-charge, 12-week intervention programme, which will run until December 2022. The primary focus is on discharged COVID-19 patients with pulmonary problems, associated co-morbidities and mental health issues that are secondary to COVID-19.

Participants will be arranged to undergo rehabilitation programmes with different treatment combinations. HKBU’s health professionals will instruct the participants to do the exercises through an online real-time platform, whereas the Chinese medicine practitioners will prescribe a Chinese herbal formula to the participants that will nourish yin and moisten the lungs. All participants will be followed up at 12 weeks and three functional assessments, including blood, urine and faecal tests, will be carried out.

Rehabilitation programme with global impact

One professor noted that while medical resources have been directed predominantly to the screening, detection, and treatment of patients infected with COVID-19, as well as the development of vaccines, one important aspect – patient rehabilitation – has been overlooked. This novel rehabilitation approach is the first-of-its-kind programme to benefit coronavirus sufferers around the world holistically and effectively.

Pulmonary rehabilitation has a positive effect on the health outcomes of patients with COVID-19. The team aims to establish an online tele-exercise rehabilitation approach in combination with Chinese herbal medicine based on our exercise testing metric criteria, for patients recovering from COVID-19.

Their pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to reduce symptoms, optimize functional status, increase participation, and reduce healthcare costs and utilization through stabilizing or reversing systemic manifestations of the disease. And is an important therapeutic option producing significant gain across multiple outcome areas of importance to the patient.

The Programme team is led by HKBU’s eminent scientists and health professionals, including the Vice-President (Research and Development) and Professor of the Department of Computer Science; the Head and Professor of the Department of Sport, Physical Education and Health; the Director and Chair Professor of the Clinical Division of the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM); and the Chair Professor in Chinese Medicine and Systems Biology at SCM.

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