In a study from the University of California, San Diego scientists found brain symptoms of COVID-19 persist in the majority of long-haulers.
They found that while many patients showed improvement, the majority still had some neurological symptoms after six months.
Some people also showed serious coordination and cognitive issues, which had not been previously reported.
In the study, researchers examined 56 people with neurological symptoms after mild-to-moderate COVID19 infections.
These people completed a neurological exam, cognitive assessment, self-reported questionnaires, and an optional brain scan.
At the time of their first visit, 89 percent of participants were experiencing fatigue and 80 percent reported headaches.
Other common neurological symptoms included memory impairment, insomnia, and decreased concentration. Eighty percent of participants said these symptoms impacted their quality of life.
When participants returned for their six-month follow-up, the team found only one-third reported complete resolution of symptoms.
The other two-thirds of participants reported persistent neurological symptoms, though most had diminished in severity.
The most prevalent symptoms at six months were memory impairment and decreased concentration.
The team noted that none of the people with persistent symptoms at six months had any history of pre-existing brain conditions prior to their COVID-19 infections.
The researchers also found that 7% of participants displayed a previously unidentified set of symptoms that included cognitive deficits, tremors, and difficulty balancing.
They labeled the phenotype Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 infection with Tremor, Ataxia, and Cognitive deficit (PASC-TAC).
The researchers are still investigating how much the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly invades the brain, but it is more likely that these delayed neurological symptoms are caused by the infection triggering an inflammatory autoimmune response in the brain.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about the cause of blood clots in people with severe COVID-19, and this existing drug could inhibit the COVID-19 virus.
The research is published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology and was conducted by Jennifer S. Graves et al.
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