This therapy is typically provided by speech and occupational therapists, neuropsychologists and neurorehabilitation experts

Cognitive rehab may help older adults clear covid-related brain fog

Eight months after falling ill with covid-19, the 73-year-old woman couldn’t remember what her husband had told her a few hours before. She would forget to remove laundry from the dryer at the end of the cycle. She would turn on the tap at a sink and walk away. Before getting covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the woman had been doing bookkeeping for a local business. Now, she couldn’t add single-digit numbers in her head. Was it the earliest stage of dementia, unmasked by covid-19? No. When a therapist assessed the woman’s cognition, her scores were normal. What was going on? Like many people who’ve contracted covid-19, this woman was having difficulty sustaining attention, organizing activities and multitasking. She complained of brain fog. She didn’t feel like herself. But this patient was lucky. Jill Jonas, an occupational therapist associated with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who described her to me, has been providing cognitive rehabilitation to the patient, and she is getting better. Cognitive rehabilitation is therapy for people whose brains have been injured by concussions, traumatic accidents, strokes or neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. It’s a suite of interventions designed to help people recover from brain injuries, if possible, and adapt to ongoing cognitive impairment. Services are typically provided by speech and occupational therapists, neuropsychologists and neurorehabilitation experts. In a recent development, some medical centers are offering cognitive rehabilitation to patients with long covid (symptoms that persist several months or longer after an infection that can’t be explained by other medical conditions).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 4 older adults who survive covid-19 have at least one persistent symptom. “Anecdotally, we’re seeing a good number of people [with long covid] make significant gains with the right kinds of interventions,” said Monique Tremaine, director of neuropsychology and cognitive rehabilitation at Hackensack Meridian Health’s JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in New Jersey. Among the post-covid cognitive complaints being addressed are problems with attention, language, information processing, memory and visual-spatial orientation. A recent review in JAMA Psychiatry found that up to 47 percent of patients hospitalized in intensive care with covid-19 developed problems of this sort. Meanwhile, a review in Nature Medicine found that brain fog was 37 percent more likely in nonhospitalized covid-19 survivors than in comparable peers who had no known covid infections. Also, emerging evidence shows seniors are more likely to experience cognitive challenges post-covid than younger people — a vulnerability attributed, in part, to older adults’ propensity to have other medical conditions. Cognitive challenges arise because of small blood clots, chronic inflammation, abnormal immune responses, brain injuries such as strokes and hemorrhages, viral persistence and neurodegeneration triggered by covid-19.

Source: this news is originally published by washingtonpost

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