Objective: To date, very few studies investigating neurocognitive deficits in COVID-19 have been published. This case series addresses cognition in post-COVID-19 patient by describing three patients in acute rehabilitation to inform a model of cognitive sequelae of COVID-19. Methods: Three English-speaking inpatients with severe symptoms and long-term intensive care unit (ICU) treatment are described. All patients had a premorbid history of hypertension and hyperlipidemia and experienced delirium and hypoxemia when hospitalized. Patient 1 is a 62-year-old male with 15 years of education with additional history of obstructive sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. Patient 2 is a 73-year-old female with 12 years of education with a premorbid medical history of alcohol use disorder and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Patient 3 is a 75-year-old male with 14 years of education. No patients had premorbid psychiatric histories. Results: The three patients demonstrated deficits on formal neuropsychological testing, particularly with encoding and verbal fluency. Memory measures improved with a more structured story memory task compared to a less-structured verbal list-learning task, suggesting executive dysfunction impacted learning. None of the patients demonstrated rapid forgetting of information. Two patients endorsed new depressive and/or anxiety symptoms. Conclusions: The results suggest evidence for neurocognitive deficits after severe COVID-19 infection, particularly in encoding and verbal fluency. These results were interpreted with caution given the limited number of patients and the telephone-based battery. The specific mechanism that caused these cognitive deficits in these individuals remains unclear. A proposed three-stage model of cognitive dysfunction is described to help guide future research.
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- executive functioning
- intensive care unit