Study of Physical Activity by Patients in UK Under COVID-19 Opens

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by Mary Chapman |

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The University of Birmingham has begun a study to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adults in the United Kingdom (UK) with neurological diseases, such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), that affect mobility.

The series of online surveys, to be completed over 12 months, are specifically aimed at learning more about the affect of the global outbreak on physical activity and health-related life quality. Survey results are expected to help better support those with physical disabilities both during the pandemic and in the future.

COVID-19 is an infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a newly identified pathogen that is highly contagious. People with chronic medical conditions including SMA are at higher risk of complications. As such, they are advised to take extra precautions to minimize infection risk.

Governments around the world have imposed restrictions to reduce the disease’s spread and avoid overwhelming healthcare services. These measures include isolation and the practice of social distancing, but both could affect exercise and therapy sessions.

“The purpose of this study is to understand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity levels and health-related quality of life in adults with a neurologically related mobility disability,” the University of Birmingham states in announcing the study.

Investigators will track changes over time as the U.K. government alters pandemic management. Each online survey is thought to take about 25 minutes to complete, with surveys arriving six times over 48 weeks (about one year). Overall study results may be published in an academic journal and presented at conferences.

“This information may not only help us better prepare for future events involving periods of increased isolation, but [better] manage the healthcare needs of individuals with ongoing neurological conditions and physical disabilities as society recovers over the coming months,” the announcement states.

Participants must be at least 18, reside in the U.K., and have a neurological condition that affects upper and/or lower limb mobility. Participation is voluntary, and people may withdraw from the survey at any time, although portions completed will be analyzed as part of the overall study. All personal data will be de-identified, securely stored, and only accessible to the research team.

Survey questions cover participants’ diagnosis, level of movement and physical function, mobility aids, and current situation during the pandemic, such as self-imposed isolation.

The study’s principle investigator is Tom Nightingale, a lecturer in exercise physiology at the University of Birmingham.

Those interested can access the survey by giving consent on the bottom of this form.