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Date Updated: Friday, April 1, 2022

Published Study Showed Long COVID-19 Syndrome Patients Had Cognitive Deficits

WMCHealth Study of 60 Adults Found Participants Had Higher than Normal Cognitive Deficits, Depression 6-8 Months after Contracting the Virus

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VALHALLA, NY (March 29, 2022) – Patients who suffer long-term effects of COVID-19 infection show significantly more subjective cognitive complaints in the areas of memory, language and cognition months after their initial infection, according to a study authored by behavioral health specialists from the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).

The study, which appears in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry,

found that the participants – all of whom were seeking treatment for symptoms of Long COVID-19 Syndrome - had low or extremely low results on tests measuring their attention, processing speed, and memory as well as executive (attention, focus, organization) and other cognitive functions. In addition, study participants also suffered higher rates of depression, anxiety, fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Results of this study suggest the existence of extremely low neuropsychological test performance experienced by individuals months after acute COVID-19 infection,’’ said Stephen Ferrando, MD, the study’s lead author and Director, Psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center, a member of the WMCHealth Network. “Study participants were COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ and our results show their complaints of neuropsychological deficits are real and should not be dismissed.’’

The study assessed 60 subjects. Half of the subjects were patients in WMCHealth’s Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program* with documented cases of Long COVID-19 Syndrome and the other half were largely asymptomatic individuals from the general population. Participants identified as having Long COVID-19 Syndrome scored lower on study tests (38 percent) than the subjects from the general population (14 percent) with higher reported levels of fatigue, depression and anxiety.

Mental “fogginess” is a common symptom of Long COVID-19 Syndrome, a condition where symptoms of COVID-19 infection linger weeks or even months after diagnosis. WMCHealth’s Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program is currently caring for hundreds of patients with the condition, and WMCHealth behavioral health specialists collaborated with the program’s clinical leaders on the study.

Phase 2 of Study Underway: Call for Study Participants

Phase 1 study participants were exposed to earlier strains of the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Ferrando said WMCHealth is continuing with a second phase of the study to see if individuals who suffered from the Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus have similar cognitive issues.

Individuals wishing to join the study are welcome to apply and must meet the following inclusion criteria for consideration:

  • Documented positive COVID-19 test after December 21, 2021
  • Recovered from the acute illness
  • Completed at least an 8th grade level of education
  • Fluent in the English language
  • Over the age of 20.

Potential study participants are encouraged to call 914.216.7733 ext. 2 or email Dr. Ferrando, the study’s principal investigator, at Stephen.Ferrando@WMCHealth.org for additional information and appointment scheduling.

About Westchester Medical Center Health Network
The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with 10 hospitals on eight campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 13,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. The Network has Level 1, Level 2 and Pediatric Trauma Centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, Primary and Comprehensive Stroke Centers, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, homecare services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State. Today, WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated healthcare in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit WMCHealth.org.

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Press representatives interested in an interview with Dr. Ferrando regarding these studies can contact us at any time.

*The WMCHealth Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program accepts new patients and takes most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid. Individuals can schedule an evaluation by requesting an appointment online or by calling 833.329.0095.

 

News 12 Westchester | Westchester Medical Center study finds COVID long-haulers suffer memory, cognitive issues