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17 / Mar / 2021

Post Covid patients, especially those affected seriously by it, are expected to have higher needs for physical, psychological and cognitive rehabilitation. Virtual Reality (VR) administers fast, tailor-made rehabilitation at a distance, and offers a solution for the impending surge of demand for rehabilitation after COVID-19. The immersion of VR may increase therapy adherence and may distract the patient from experienced fatigue and anxiety.

An intensive care admission is a fearsome experience, especially when a patient is supported by mechanical ventilation as is common in COVID-19. Depression occurs in approximately 30% of recovering patients, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 10–50% of patients and anxiety in 70% or Post-Intensive Care Syndrome after coronavirus infection or {PICS} patients. Psychological therapy targeting these indications can be offered through VR. VR rehabilitation as part of telemedicine solutions has several advantages compared to traditional rehabilitation. First, considering our society's continuing need for social distancing, therapy can be given at a distance. Second, VR allows therapists to treat patients simultaneously. While therapists must monitor sessions at a distance in some cases, live support is generally not required, increasing patients' autonomy and reducing the workload of therapists. What makes VR particularly different is that it provides its users with a 3D immersive environment. The immersion makes therapy more fun and reduces distraction from the external environment. Both might increase therapy adherence and engagement. Besides, VR may serve to distract patients from experienced fatigue and anxiety which would otherwise hinder their ability to move.

The COVID-19 crisis has generated a need to expand telehealth technologies. Embedding VR in virtual care platforms would assist in spreading of VR therapy, both for post-COVID-19 patients in the present and possibly for other patients with similar rehabilitation needs in the future.


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