Post-Covid Cognition

Conveniently located to serve the areas of Santa Monica, Venice, South Bay, Brentwood, Beverly Hills and all of Greater Los Angeles

thinking-brainfog-post covid

New research is changing the way we think about COVID-19, particularly related to how it affects our brains. In many cases, patients that have otherwise recovered from COVID can experience problems with their memory and attention span, and many of them experience “brain fog” on a daily basis. Similarly, people can develop anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a result, medical professionals across the country have seen an uptick in requests for help with post-COVID cognitive decline.

Thankfully, Neurozone can help. Licensed speech-language pathologist Erin Badour, CCC-SLP offers therapeutic neurofeedback protocols. By participating in these sessions, patients can improve symptoms of post-COVID cognitive problems and find therapeutic relief from its negative psychological effects. The aim of these treatments is to improve brain function and mental health, allowing patients to get on with their day-to-day lives and find long-term ways of dealing with stress and worry. Call (310) 8210-3640 or fill out a form on our website to book a personal consultation.

COVID and Cognition

problems after recovering from COVID-19

Cognition is the process of thinking, acquiring knowledge, and understanding the world around us. Global cognition is the use of the entire brain. Since the early months of the pandemic, scientists have studied the effects of COVID-19 on the body. And, since studying its effects on cognition, they have released some unsettling findings. One research paper described that patients showed signs of inattention, disorientation, and poor coordination in response to command,” while another noted changes in the cingulate cortex, an area of the brain that is substantially involved in cognition. (1)(2)

Executive Function

A large portion of cognition is executive function; a series of higher-level skills that allow us to control our behavior and remember important information. 

Working Memory

Working memory allows us to keep track of what’s going on. Some people liken it to a voice inside their head. It keeps pertinent information close at hand. 

 Example: Remembering a phone number you were just told.

Regulating Emotions

Emotional regulation keeps our feelings in order and stops us from doing or saying irrational or inappropriate things. 

Example: Accepting constructive criticism.

Organizational Skills

Organizational skills form a system to keep track of important things like time, planning, scheduling, and multitasking. 

Example: Prioritizing tasks at work in order of their importance.

Flexibility

Flexibility allows us to adapt to change. Our brains enable us to switch tasks, adapt to different points of view, or reprioritize tasks quickly.

Example: Changing your point of view when presented with new information.

Self-Monitoring

Executive function allows us to view and evaluate ourselves. Essentially, it’s our self-awareness.

Example: Performing poorly on a test, but understanding what you did wrong so you can do better next time.

Impulse Control

Impulse control allows us to think before we act. It serves as a filter to determine whether an action is dangerous, foolish, or inappropriate.

Example: Seeing a clear road ahead but checking both ways before crossing.

Task Initiation – Avoiding procrastination, starting and completing tasks.

Example: Getting started straight away with an assignment, even though it isn’t due for a while.

Find out about qEEG brain mapping at NeuroZone and how it could benefit you here.

“Long” COVID

Long COVID is a group of persistent symptoms some patients experience after contracting the virus. From this, doctors and other health professionals have seen first-hand evidence that COVID-19 is more than just a respiratory disease. It is shown to affect multiple organs, including the brain. It can also lead to fatigue, diffuse pain throughout the body, headaches, mental health problems, and cognition problems. Although we are still in the early stages, researchers believe that post-COVID syndrome occurs microscopically and relates to the inflammatory process. (3)

 Cognition Problems from Long Covid Include:

  • Global Cognitive Difficulties
  • Impaired Memory
  • Changes in Attention Span
  • Other Executive Function Deficits
  • Verbal Fluency Problems (3)

The knock-on effects of COVID-19 on cognitive function are accepted by professional bodies, including The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The organization recognized that COVID can cause communication challenges, swallowing disorders, and long-term cognitive problems. (4) In fact, the symptoms are very similar to the cognitive dysfunction and fatigue experienced by patients who have undergone chemotherapy for cancer. (3)

Cognition, Speech, and Mental Health

As well as causing lasting damage to the lungs and other organs, COVID can affect the brain in a number of ways.

Brain Fog after COVID

“Brain Fog”: Memory, and Attention Span

Many people who have had COVID describe “brain fog” long after they recover from the virus. Brain fog is a colloquial term that describes the feeling of being mentally slow. 

What Does Brain Fog Feel Like?

  • You might not be able to recall an important piece of information.
  • You might get confused more easily.
  • You might feel “fuzzy”, or spaced out
  • You might forget important meetings or appointments.
  • You feel it takes more mental effort to perform tasks. 
  • You may feel more tired than you expected to be.

One study found that post-COVID brain fog is a problem that appears to affect more women than men. It was also found that these symptoms were worse if the patient had respiratory symptoms of COVID at the onset, and if they had spent time in the ICU. (5)

Speech & Language

Our brains control the complex processes that help us to understand and produce language. COVID can affect the way your voice sounds. Speech and Language Pathologists have noted that COVID has a significant impact on some people’s ability to speak and swallow.

Dysphonia – Dysphonia is simply the presence of an abnormal voice. It can be characterized in different ways, but many patients describe hoarseness or a raspy, gravely voice. The voice can also be weak, breathy, or strained. 

Dysphagia – Dysphagia is difficulty with swallowing. Patients with this condition may have to work a lot harder to swallow food or drink. They may also take more time eating or drinking. The condition can be caused by damage to physical structures in the larynx or by a disruption of the motor connection to the brain that controls the swallowing movement. 

Persistent dysphonia or signs of dysphagia should always be checked by a licensed speech language pathologist, ENT, or other medical professional. Dysphagia is dangerous. Food can become stuck and there is a risk of choking and aspiration (where the food travels into the lungs). Aspiration of food or liquid into the lungs is a medical emergency. If you experience a choking emergency due to dysphagia, seek immediate medical attention and call 911.

COVID and Mental Health

The pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in the United States. And, the long-term mental health impact of the illness on COVID survivors is still emerging. Studies show that depression, anxiety, and PTSD have occurred following COVID-19 hospitalization. In fact, some researchers state that the number of people with subclinical PTSD symptoms is concerning. Subclinical symptoms of a mental illness mean that a condition cannot be diagnosed, however, the symptoms may still be deeply distressing for the individual. Notably, risk factors for PTSD from COVID also include being female, and having pre-existing mental health issues.(6)

Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback is used to improve physical and mental health. This therapy uses your own body’s responses to stimuli in real-time to provide biofeedback. Sensors fitted to your head or body record and represent this information, allowing patients to adjust involuntary processes consciously. Meditation techniques, games to improve memory, deep breathing, and strategies to improve executive function can be extremely beneficial, especially for people who have symptoms of cognitive dysfunction.

Get in touch with us to book a personal consultation and find out how neurofeedback therapy can help you!

Cognition Testing Services at Neurozone

Therapeutic Services for Post-COVID Brain Fog

Personal Consultation

Experienced speech language pathologist Erin Badour will listen to your concerns and provide treatment protocol options for you at your personal consultation. At NeuroZone’s Playa del Rey offices, we will ask you to provide some medical information and ask you to give details about the symptoms you’re experiencing. Once she has discussed the options available to you, she will create a personalized neurofeedback treatment protocol.

See how qEEG testing and neurofeedback therapy work in practice by reading our case studies!

Cost of Neurofeedback Therapy for COVID in Los Angeles

Every person is affected by COVID-19 differently. Therefore, your therapy protocol will be unique to you. As a result, exact costs will vary. To find out more about neurofeedback therapy services available at NeuroZone, call our Playa del Rey office directly at (310) 821-3640. Alternatively, you can send us your inquiry by filling out this form.

Read more about neurofeedback, improving your mental health, and finding help for children and teens by reading our blog.

FAQ

Why can’t I think straight after getting COVID?

Studies show that COVID-19 causes cognitive dysfunction in many survivors, sometimes months after they have officially “recovered”. If you are experiencing problems with your memory, difficulty focusing on tasks, or other symptoms that prevent you from conducting daily tasks and responsibilities, please speak to a medical professional.

Can Covid affect a person’s speech?

Yes. Research has found a link between speech issues and contracting COVID-19. Difficulty finding the strength to speak, hoarseness, shortness of breath, and other problems can persist long after the other symptoms of COVID have gone.

Can long COVID cause mental health problems?

The residual effects of COVID-19 appear to contribute to worsening depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Recent scientific reports highlight that women and those with preexisting mental health conditions may be more likely to experience worsened mental health symptoms following COVID.

References

  1. Helms J, Kremer S, Merdji H, et al. Neurologic Features in Severe SARS-CoV-2 Infection. New England Journal of Medicine. Published online April 15, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7179967/ 
  2. Hugon J, Msika EF, Queneau M, Farid K, Paquet C. Long COVID: cognitive complaints (brain fog) and dysfunction of the cingulate cortex. Journal of Neurology. Published online June 18, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8211714/ 
  3. Theoharides TC, Cholevas C, Polyzoidis K, Politis A. Long‐COVID syndrome ‐associated brain fog and chemofog : Luteolin to the rescue. BioFactors. Published online April 12, 2021. https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/biof.1726 
  4. COVID-19 Recovery Often Requires Cognition, Swallowing, and Speech/Language Treatment. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/news/2020/COVID-19-recovery-often-requires-cognition-swallowing-and-speech-language-treatment/ 
  5. Asadi‐Pooya AA, Akbari A, Emami A, et al. Long COVID syndrome‐associated brain fog. Journal of Medical Virology. Published online October 24, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8662118/ 
  6. Tarsitani L, Vassalini P, Koukopoulos A, et al. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Among COVID-19 Survivors at 3-Month Follow-up After Hospital Discharge. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Published online March 29, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007055/