Long Covid: Study launched to reduce symptoms of extreme fatigue

A study into reducing the extreme fatigue felt by sufferers of long Covid has been launched by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).

The study, one of 15 new projects in a £20 million investment from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will involve activity tracking to help those with Long Covid who are reporting low energy levels after undertaking day-to-day tasks.

Using a technique called adaptive pacing therapy – commonly used to treat those with chronic fatigue syndrome – researchers at UWS will send ‘just-in-time’ notifications to people’s Fitbits when they are at risk of overexertion, to help reduce symptoms and aid long-term recovery.

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The study is the second long Covid-related research project underway at UWS, following the announcement in February of a project tracking and identifying trends in persistent long Covid symptoms.

Professor Nicholas Sculthorpe.Professor Nicholas Sculthorpe.
Professor Nicholas Sculthorpe.

According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, some 81,000 people in Scotland have experienced long Covid and 34,000 report having symptoms for a year or more.

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Research lead and expert in clinical exercise physiology at UWS, Professor Nicholas Sculthorpe, said: “To be effective, adaptive pacing therapy needs people to continuously track their daily activities and balance what they plan to do, with how much energy they feel they have. But it’s not always easy as the amount of activity that’ll cause symptoms to get worse for one person may be different for another.

“With help from people with long Covid, this project aims to make adaptive pacing easier for people to use … the aim is to help those with long Covid better plan their daily activities and prevent periods where symptoms become worse. Over time, we’ll look for ways to scale up the process to help more people.”

Jane Ormerod, who has long Covid and is a member of Long Covid Scotland, said: “With this collaboration between UWS and Long Covid Scotland, we hope to help people coping with long Covid to be able to manage their day-to-day energy and activity levels. We also hope they have fewer bouts of exhaustion and reoccurring symptoms.

"We don’t know if it will help people recover more quickly, but in the short term this should make coping with the condition easier.”

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