"Upgrading therapy options for the rehabilitation of critically ill (covid) patients"

Our research interest is mainly in the field of Intensive Care, Burns, and Cardiorespiratory Rehabilitation. Since the pandemic, we all have the research domain of Covid19 in common. Please check out this already published article that the 3 of us supported: Intensive care unit acquired muscle weakness in COVID-19 patients – N. Van Aerde – Intensive Care Med. 2020.


We tackle muscle weakness and cognitive impairments, both seen in ICU covid and non-covid patients, through an active way of virtual rehabilitation, with a device that is very promising to keep motivation for rehabilitation high.


The Team is formed of Eline Haghedooren Physiotherapist Intensive Care, University Hospitals Leuven, Renata Haghedooren Medical Doctor Intensive Care, University Hospitals Leuven, Rik Gosselink Prof. Dr. in Rehabilitation Sciences, University Hospitals Leuven, Roger ter Heide Producer, ImproVive and Nikita Kayal Game Designer, ImproVive.

The Covid Center UZ Leuven team for VR4REHAB
From left to right: Dr. R. Haghedooren – Prof. Dr. R. Gosselink – Msc. E. Haghedooren

What makes your project unique?

Virtual Reality has been used in hospital settings for a while, but focusing mostly on relaxation, hypnosis, and pain management. Those are all passive uses of VR. (Inter-)Active modes of VR would contain a variety of exercises/games in a virtual world, that can be altered by the actual movements of the patients. Exercises/games would differentiate in difficulty level, adapted to the patient, and provide the right amount of training. Patients would be able to ‘escape’ to a whole different world. All those items would make rehabilitation of many covid and non-covid critical ill patients more fun, for both patients and therapists, and therefore keep motivation for rehabilitation higher.

We interviewed patients and therapists about their needs in rehabilitation on ICU, and then asked a developer to make an application based on those needs (and not the other way around). So we work bottom-up, focusing on the real clinical needs. This would make our device immediately ready to use in clinical practice (with a focus on ICU patients).


Dr. Eline Haghedooren  eline.haghedooren@uzleuven.be

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