UCF study hopes to help COVID-19 survivors improve recovery after ICU stays

ORLANDO, Fla. — It is estimated that thousands of COVID-19 patients who recover after a stay in intensive care still experience significant complications for months.

A new study by University of Central Florida researchers hopes to change that.

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Over the past two years, critical care nurse Dr. Brian Peach noticed that once a ventilator was removed from many patients, including COVID-19 survivors, other problems began.

“It’s almost heartbreaking as an ICU nurse because you want them to have a meaningful life after they’re discharged, and unfortunately, many of them don’t,” Peach said.

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More than half won’t return to work the first year due to “post-intensive care syndrome,” covering a wide range of temporary to chronic mental impairments.

“They have anxiety, they have depression, they have post-traumatic stress disorder, they have sleep disturbances,” Peach said. “I find that very concerning.”

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That’s why Peach, who’s also an associate professor at UCF, is spearheading a team to understand the complications for both COVID-19 and other ICU survivors.

The yearlong project is looking for Central Florida residents who meet these criteria and are at least one month removed from an ICU stay in 2020 or 2021.

Researchers will compare the experiences of dozens of patients, hoping to learn how to improve recovery.

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“Not just to get people over the difficult, challenging period that they’re in, being acutely ill, but ultimately we want to see them do better,” Peach said.

It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of former ICU patients experience some type of post-intensive care syndrome, and half those patients report chronic issues.

If you think you may qualify for the study, you can contact Dr. Brian Peach at 407-823-5460 or email brian.peach@ucf.edu

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.