COVID-19 Story Tip: Innovation amid Pandemic: Using Tech to Help Patients Recover

06/03/2020

As patients recover from COVID-19 and other complex conditions, their care teams have to consider the best rehab approach while a patient is hospitalized and especially once they return home. This is vitally important since the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine and social distancing have significantly reduced access to neurological and rehabilitation services, and preplanning is important. Equally important are the tools clinicians use to help patients recover.

For patients recovering from COVID-19, strokes and heart attacks, neurorehabilitation is an often required aspect of rehabilitative care. A pandemic can make that challenging. So an interdisciplinary team of physicians, occupational therapists and physical therapists brainstormed the best way to bring needed rehabilitation care to the patient. They landed on an FDA cleared therapeutic video game-like tool that enables clinicians to provide telerehabilitation therapy to patients and COVID-19 survivors in the hospital and at home.

The technology, containing 26 games, tracks the patient’s movements using a newly developed mobile technology platform and interface. The games are assigned by the providers based on the patient’s therapy needs. With assistive devices such as a walker or the help of a caregiver, patients can use the games while building their strength, endurance and balance. As the patient plays the games, the therapist has the ability to monitor the patient as well as adjust the duration, level of difficulty and function of the games through synchronized telemedicine.

Some patients are using the device, which was developed by neuroscientist, as soon as one week from stroke recovery or coming off a ventilator after being in an intensive care environment due to COVID-19. The computer device is equipped with a camera and cloud-based software applications that are fine-tuned to meet a patient’s physical and occupational rehab needs.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital is believed to be the first institution in the United States to adopt the use of this technology in all levels of patient care. This project was made possible by a $150,000 philanthropic donation.

Experts Preeti Raghavan, M.B.B.S., associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and director of the Center of Excellence in Stroke Treatment, Recovery and Rehabilitation at the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute; Steven Zeiler, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and director of the vascular neurology fellowship program; Ken Johnson, P.T., director of rehab therapy services outreach; and Harrison Segall, P.T., D.P.T., senior outpatient physical therapist, are available for comment on the use of the computer device for neurorehabilitation.


For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus. For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit coronavirus.jhu.edu.