Safety, feasibility and initial efficacy of an app-facilitated telerehabilitation (AFTER) programme for COVID-19 survivors: a pilot randomised study

BMJ Open. 2022 Jul 26;12(7):e061285. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-061285.


Objectives: Determine the safety, feasibility and initial efficacy of a multicomponent telerehabilitation programme for COVID-19 survivors.

Design: Pilot randomised feasibility study.

Setting: In-home telerehabilitation.

Participants: 44 participants (21 female, mean age 52 years) discharged home following hospitalisation with COVID-19 (with and without intensive care unit (ICU) stay).

Interventions: Participants were block randomised 2:1 to receive 12 individual biobehaviourally informed, app-facilitated, multicomponent telerehabilitation sessions with a licenced physical therapist (n=29) or to a control group (n=15) consisting of education on exercise and COVID-19 recovery trajectory, physical activity and vitals monitoring, and weekly check-ins with study staff. Interventions were 100% remote and occurred over 12 weeks.

Primary and secondary outcome measures: The primary outcome was feasibility, including safety and session adherence. Secondary outcomes included preliminary efficacy outcomes including tests of function and balance; patient-reported outcome measures; a cognitive assessment; and average daily step count. The 30 s chair stand test was the main secondary (efficacy) outcome.

Results: No adverse events (AEs) occurred during testing or in telerehabilitation sessions; 38% (11/29) of the intervention group compared with 60% (9/15) of the control group experienced an AE (p=0.21), most of which were minor, over the course of the 12-week study. 27 of 29 participants (93%; 95% CI 77% to 99%) receiving the intervention attended ≥75% of sessions. Both groups demonstrated clinically meaningful improvement in secondary outcomes with no statistically significant differences between groups.

Conclusion: Fully remote telerehabilitation was safe, feasible, had high adherence for COVID-19 recovery, and may apply to other medically complex patients including those with barriers to access care. This pilot study was designed to evaluate feasibility; further efficacy evaluation is needed.

Trial registration number: NCT04663945.

Keywords: COVID-19; REHABILITATION MEDICINE; Rehabilitation medicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Survivors
  • Telerehabilitation*

Associated data