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Telerehabilitation Telerehabilitation

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In combination with breathing techniques, both functional and aerobic exercise modalities improve quality of life and stress symptoms in long COVID-19 people, with functional exercise showing greater potential for decreasing fatigue and improving functional performance.

In a randomized controlled trial, both functional and aerobic exercises, when combined with breathing techniques, were found to improve stress levels and the quality of life in individuals with long COVID-19. Notably, functional exercise demonstrated more significant improvements in fatigue and functional abilities.

The researchers sought to assess the immediate clinical impact of two telerehabilitation programs, one incorporating functional exercises and the other aerobic exercises, both complemented by breathing techniques, in terms of alleviating long SARS-CoV-2 symptoms. Participants were randomized to either the functional exercise group or the aerobic exercise group, both incorporating breathing techniques. These interventions spanned over 8 weeks with three sessions weekly, delivered via the Fisiotrack mobile app.

Evaluations were conducted before and after the intervention period, encompassing assessments of quality of life (assessed via the European Quality of Life Scale), fatigue (using the Fatigue Assessment Scale), anxiety and depression (measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Questionnaire), perceived stress (evaluated with the Perceived Stress Scale), functional performance (assessed through the 30 Seconds Standing Test), and dyspnea (determined with the aid of London Chest Activity of Daily Living Scale).

Additionally, participants' adherence to the treatment, app usability (determined by the System Usability Scale), and perceived change after treatment (using the Patient Global Impression of Change Scale) were also examined post-treatment. Overall, 43 volunteers (21 in the functional exercise group and 22 in the aerobic exercise group, with a mean age of 42.4 [Standard Deviation = 6.5] years) completed the trial.

Within each group, the functional exercise group exhibited notable improvements in perceived stress (decreased by -4.9 points), functional capacity (increased by 2.6 repetitions), and fatigue (reduced by -6.7 points), while the aerobic exercise group showed an improvement in perceived stress (reduced by -6.2 points). However, no inter-group variations were noted in relation to the studied variables. The Patient Global Impression of Change Scale favored the functional exercise group over the aerobic exercise group, and both groups reached the minimal clinically important difference in terms of quality of life. 

The usability of the telerehabilitation tool received an excellent rating from both groups. To sum it up, both telerehabilitation exercise modalities were successful in alleviating stress symptoms and enhancing the quality of life among long COVID-19 patients. Importantly, functional exercise emerged as a more encouraging strategy for mitigating fatigue and improving functional performance. Thus, telerehabilitation could serve as an ideal method for prescribing physical exercise to those dealing with long COVID-19.


Physical Therapy


Effectiveness of Functional or Aerobic Exercise Combined with Breathing Techniques in Telerehabilitation for Patients with Long COVID: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Claudia Espinoza-Bravo et al.

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