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This is one of the first studies that, beyond the follow-up of the disease, addresses and accompanies patients by specialists in physiotherapy and psychology online. The team of this project has received a grant of 180.000 euros from the Covid-19 Fund of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III.
The team of "Translational Research in Pathophysiology Associated with the Critically Ill" of the Research and Innovation Institute of the Parc Taulí (I3PT), integrated into CIBERES, is carrying out a study that aims to identify the physical and cognitive sequelae and emotional problems that COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from the ICU may be suffering from and who, in addition to monitoring their own illness, may also require specific treatment, physical and / or cognitive rehabilitation and emotional support. .
The study, which has been funded with a grant of 180.000 euros from the COVID-19 Fund of the Carlos III Health Institute, is led by post-doctoral researcher specializing in Neuropsychology and CIBERSAM researcher, Sol Fernández-Gonzalo, and has with a multidisciplinary research team made up of neuropsychologists, intensivists, specialists in rehabilitative medicine and mental health, nursing staff, physiotherapists, and other biomedical researchers at Parc Taulí.
It is described that between 30% and 50% of critically ill patients admitted to the ICU will develop Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) during the months following discharge. This syndrome is characterized by the appearance of a set of sequelae not only on a physical level, but also on a neurocognitive and emotional level, which impact on the functionality and quality of life of people and can persist for up to five years. after being discharged from the hospital.
Some studies have described that the emotional sequelae of PICS can also be seen in relatives of critically ill patients. It should be remembered that COVID-19 is also affecting young people, who are of working age and, therefore, the impact of these sequelae on functionality and quality of life is taking on even more socio-economic relevance.
Prolonged stays in the ICU in conditions of isolation
During the first wave of the pandemic due to COVID-19 disease, and in the time we have had since the beginning of the second wave, the ICU of our hospital has received about 140 patients. Stays in the ICU are long, averaging 2-3 weeks. Most patients require prolonged intubation and high levels of sedation due to the lung involvement that causes the virus. In addition, the health emergency situation and the high risk of infection force healthcare teams to take extreme protection measures and to treat patients in isolation conditions that hinder regular professional-patient communication. A situation that adds to the isolation that involves the elimination of visits from relatives themselves.
Virtual space with guidelines and recommendations for individual support
The study in COVID-19 patients began last June with 42 candidates, who are being monitored and personalized support for a year in order to be able to identify and address in time the possible sequelae arising from the critical illness associated with COVID-19. The monitoring is carried out mainly electronically. The uniqueness of this study is that, beyond the identification of symptoms, individualized monitoring and support is carried out by specialists in physiotherapy and psychology through telephone contact and access to a virtual space that contains specific guidelines and recommendations.
This study joins the various research projects that Parc Taulí currently has in order to contribute to the knowledge of the sequelae of COVID-19. The project is part of one of the lines of research of the I3PT, launched more than 10 years ago by the director of research and innovation of the I3PT, Dr. Lluís Blanch. The group has received funding from the TV3 Marathon and research funds from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III both for the study of cognitive and emotional impairments in ICU survivors, and for the development of software for cognitive stimulation by the critically ill patient. "This funding has allowed us to delve into the characterization of PICS and the demonstration that cognitive stimulation in the ICU is viable and safe," says Dr. Fernández-Gonzalo.
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