App to help those with persistent Covid-19 symptoms recover through exercise

Dubbed MoveVid, the app provides patients with a customised eight-week exercise programme. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Those who have recovered from Covid-19 but suffer persistent symptoms such as breathlessness can look forward to help from an app to recover through exercise.

Dubbed MoveVid, it provides patients with a customised eight-week exercise programme aimed at helping them return to their previous levels of physical activity.

Paired with a wearable pulse oximeter, which measures heart rate and blood oxygen levels, the app features an animated character that demonstrates how to perform exercises such as squats.

The app also prompts users to rest if they feel unwell or out of breath, and provides infographics and guides so that patients can learn how to exercise safely by themselves.

It is expected to be available to the public by the first quarter of 2023.

The persistence of symptoms such as fatigue or shortness of breath for three months or more following a coronavirus infection is sometimes referred to as “long Covid”.

In April, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a written reply to parliamentary questions that his ministry does not track the number of patients with persistent symptoms after Covid-19.

However, a study conducted in the Netherlands by researchers from the University of Groningen and published in The Lancet medical journal earlier this year suggested that as many as one in eight adults with Covid-19 may experience long Covid.

MoveVid was developed by a team of two doctors and four therapists from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), together with local start-up Taggle Health. 

A pilot study to test the safety and effectiveness of the app’s exercise programme began in May 2022, with participants in the process of being recruited. The aim is to eventually have at least 10 suitable participants.

The app was conceived in 2020, when pandemic restrictions meant there was a greater need for remotely supervised exercise programmes.

With most people experiencing mild symptoms and Singapore moving towards living with Covid-19, the team is keen to expand the use of the app to helping people recover from other respiratory conditions, said senior physiotherapist Cheryl Heng, the study’s principal investigator.

MoveVid is paired with a wearable pulse oximeter, which measures the heart rate and blood oxygen levels of patients. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Dr Xu Huiying, a senior consultant with the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine at TTSH, said the conditions include chronic asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems.

TTSH senior physiotherapist Audrey Lee said the programme is likely to be most beneficial to elderly patients, who may have problems resuming physical activity after a Covid-19 infection.

Dr Xu added that such patients may be less likely to be able to exercise by themselves, and may face problems going to the hospital for a rehabilitation programme.

“It will help patients get out of the cycle of inactivity and help them on the road to recovery,” she said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.