The innovative “MotiVeeR UZeLf” app is a Virtual Reality application created by clinicians from the University Hospital of Leuven, Belgium, with the goal to stimulate early activity to prevent/attenuate alterations in physical/mental functionality seen in many (post-) intensive care (ICU) patients.
The vCare project, in which EHTEL was involved, has worked with the VR4REHAB project. This rehabilitation initiative is of keen interest to anyone:
- working in or with an intensive care unit (ICU).
- considering the scaling up of digital solutions (in this case, virtual reality (VR)).
In 2021 the VR4REHAB project got a grant through the second call for capitalisation provided by the Interreg North-West Europe programme. The grant led to an extension of VR4REHAB´s former work, and enabled the partners to focus on creating innovative VR solutions for COVID-19 and “long COVID” rehabilitation.
After a Hackathon week and a session called Dev Jam, MotiVeeR UZeLf emerged as one of the three winning projects. Developed by the Belgian University Hospital of the University of Leuven, the project was directed by Eline Haghedooren, physical therapist. The project was supported by some important specialists in the virtual reality (VR) sector, organisations like Improvive, InmotionVR, and In4Care. MotiVeeR UZeLf has now managed to achieve significant developments.
The VR4LongCovid project comes to an end in March 2023. The results of the three winning projects will be presented in a webinar in April 2023. Further details will follow.
Meet the team: the staff who worked on the MotiVeeR UZeLf project
Meanwhile, project director, Eline Haghedooren, was interviewed. She answered seven basic questions that can offer you insights into the VR4REHAB team and the project experiences.
Where did the initial idea come from?
“There has been a long need for alternatives in rehabilitation to get patients in intensive care units moving. During long-term admissions, especially in isolation rooms, the tools are often limited and, over time, monotonous. Introducing an innovative technique such as VR into care immediately means a huge impact in the daily rehabilitation of patients in intensive care units.”
What was needed to achieve your goals?
“Currently, there is no VR application adapted specifically for the rehabilitation needs of the intensive care population. So we had yet to develop this. On top of that, a new technique needs to be sufficiently tested. So we needed financial support for both the development and testing of our VR device. This was found thanks to the VR4REHAB grant and the VR4REHAB consortium.”
What were the challenges faced during the project?
“We experienced several challenges during the project:
– Complex legislation regarding MDR – Lengthy procedures
– Additional safety procedures given critical patient population
– Financial: small budget.”
How is the project helping patients?
“There is a scientific consensus that “early mobilization” in the intensive care population has a beneficial impact on the rehabilitation potential of the patient. Early movement/rehabilitation in a critical phase, with often bed-bound and isolated patients, is often a difficult task for both the patient and therapist. With a fun and interactive VR application, we seek to intrinsically encourage patients to move in these early phases.”
In which stage of development are you now?
“The software has been developed, all procedures have been completed correctly and widely supported, and the first [two] patients have been included in the study regarding ‘feasibility and safety of an interactive VR device in the ICU’”
According to your experience, how do you think one could scale up for impact?
“Support the further development of this ICU-specific VR application to make it widely accessible.”
This is what some of the Eline´s patients say
- “It is very fun to do this.”
- “Finally something different.”
- “Virtual what? That is for the younger generation, that won’t be anything for me!” ➔ Then, after 5 minutes of playing: “I still want this!” (man, aged 71 years old)
Eline´s personal experience
“Too bad that we had to experience so many obstacles, because there is huge potential in VR for the healthcare! This is why we need to keep going on!”