In a recent 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, the team examined 56 people with neurological symptoms after mild-to-moderate COVID-19 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.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about four easy ways to reduce your risk of severe COVID-19, and results showing Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce severe COVID-19.
The research was published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology and conducted by Jennifer S. Graves et al.
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