"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.

The innovative “MotiVeeR UZeLf” app is a Virtual Reality application from physiotherapists Msc. E. Haghedooren and Prof. Em. R. Gosselink, and medical doctor / ICU staff member R. Haghedooren. These clinicians from the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, are working together with In4Care, ImproVive and InMotionVR to develop an interactive and ICU-specific VR device for bedridden ICU patients with a critical illness, to motivate them for (paced) exercise training of the upper limbs and neurocognitive rehabilitation.

The goal is to stimulate early activity to prevent/attenuate alterations in (long term) physical/mental functionality seen in many (post-)ICU patients. At this stage, they are running a feasibility study with the “MotiVeeR UZeLf” app on both covid and non-covid ICU patients in the ICU departments of the University Hospitals Leuven.

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

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

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