HKBU Launches Rehabilitation Program for Discharged COVID-19 Patients

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Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has launched a unique Hong Kong Rehabilitation Program 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

The Program team is led by HKBU’s eminent scientists and health professionals, namely, Professor Guo Yike, Vice-President (Research and Development) and Professor of the Department of Computer Science; Professor Julien Baker, Head and Professor of the Department of Sport, Physical Education and Health; Professor Bian Zhaoxiang, Director and Chair Professor of the Clinical Division of the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM); and Professor Jia Wei, Chair Professor in Chinese Medicine and Systems Biology at SCM.

Discharged COVID-19 patients can experience a number of 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 program 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 program, 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 program, 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 programs 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 program with global impact

Professor Guo said, “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 program to benefit coronavirus sufferers around the world in a holistic and effective manner.”

The launch of HKBU’s Rehabilitation Programme marks the establishment of the first clinically-validated rehabilitation program for COVID-19.  It is designed to reduce symptoms, optimize functional status, and reduce healthcare costs by stabilizing or reversing systemic manifestations of the disease. The success of the Programme will have a significant impact on the world and its battle with COVID-19.

Discharged COVID-19 patients who are interested in participating in the Programme can call 3411 2019 or email [email protected] for inquiries.

Further details and registration information can be found on the Programme webpage:  https://research.hkbu.edu.hk/whats-on/covid-19-rehabilitation.