New £1.9m 'long Covid' exercise research trial by Warwick University and UHCW is one of first in UK - The Coventry Observer

17th Aug, 2022

New £1.9m 'long Covid' exercise research trial by Warwick University and UHCW is one of first in UK

Editorial Correspondent 14th Dec, 2020 Updated: 14th Dec, 2020

ONE of the UK’s first clinical trials to investigate treatment for the long-term symptoms of Covid-19 is to be led by the University of Warwick and Coventry’s University Hospital.

Researchers at the Warwick Clinical Trials Unit and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust are to examine whether a tailored online exercise and support programme called REGAIN will help those experiencing ‘long Covid’. Previous research on similar diseases such as SARS has shown some benefit of exercise rehabilitation for patients.

Dr Gordon McGregor, a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, who is chief investigator for the REGAIN trial at Warwick Clinical Trials Unit and UHCW NHS Trust.

Clinical exercise physiologist Dr Gordon McGregor, chief investigator for the REGAIN trial, said: “At a critical time in the treatment and recovery of patients with Covid-19 we are proud to be at the forefront of research into providing world-class long-term care.

“The main aim of the REGAIN trial is to find out if we can improve people’s quality of life with a single session of advice and support or an 8-week exercise and support programme. It’s not just about improving fitness. It’s about improving any aspect of people’s lives; whatever they feel is important to them or getting back what they may have lost after having Covid-19. For some people, that might be physical, for others it might be mental, or it could be a bit of both.

“The sessions are very much geared towards encouraging people to engage in all kinds of activities. Our exercise specialists are very skilled and experienced and will be able to deliver sessions for a wide range of abilities.”

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has announced £1.19 million to fund the trial. It is one of a number of Covid-19 studies as part of its Recovery and Learning call, totalling £5.5m to help better manage current and future waves of the pandemic and investigate its long-term impacts on the health and care system.

The new REGAIN trial – short for Rehabilitation Exercise and psychological support after Covid-19 infection – will focus on people who have had a hospital admission for the virus and who are still suffering with any physical or mental health problems more than three months after their discharge from hospital. Researchers are specifically looking for those people who are still experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Breathlessness
  • Low fitness/energy
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping problems
  • Worry or anxiety
  • Low mood or frustration
  • Shoulder or back pain
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • A persistent cough

It will be a randomised control trial aiming to recruit 535 people and due to social distancing restrictions will be conducted entirely online. Those taking part will be split randomly into one of two groups: one group will take part in an eight-week programme of online group exercise and support sessions, while the other will receive a single on-line session of exercise advice and support.

Participants will be surveyed when they begin the trial on aspects of their quality of life, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, cognitive function, physical activity, PTSD, as well as details of their personal and work lives.

The results of this study will help to guide recommendations for treatment of people with long Covid, for whom there is currently only limited advice and guidelines available.

General advice on exercising when recovering from Covid-19 is available at yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk

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