Could Virtual Reality play a role in the rehabilitation after COVID-19 infection?


Post-COVID-19 patients, particularly those who needed high care, are expected to have high needs for physical, psychological and cognitive rehabilitation. Yet, the resources needed to provide rehabilitation treatment are expected to be inadequate because healthcare systems faced a shortage of high-quality treatment of these symptoms already before the COVID-19 crisis emerged in patients with comparable needs. In this viewpoint, we discuss the potential of Virtual Reality (VR) administering fast, tailor-made rehabilitation at a distance, and offering a solution for the impending surge of demand for rehabilitation after COVID-19. VR consists of a headmounted display (HMD) that can bring the user by computer-generated visuals into an immersive, realistic multi-sensory environment. Several studies on VR show its potential for rehabilitation and suggest VR to be beneficial in post-COVID-19. The immersion of VR may increase therapy adherence and may distract the patient from experienced fatigue and anxiety. Barriers still have to be overcome to easily implement VR in healthcare. We argue that embedding VR in virtual care platforms would assist in overcoming these barriers and would stimulate the spread of VR therapy, both for post-COVID-19 patients in the present and possibly for other patients with similar rehabilitation needs in the future.



SMITS, M.; BART STAAL, J.; VAN GOOR, H. Could Virtual Reality play a role in the rehabilitation after COVID-19 infection? BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, v. 6, n. 1, p. 10–13, 2020.