Greenville, SC (WSPA)- Some who have been infected with COVID-19 experience long-term effects from their infection known as long COVID.
As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7News Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with a speech-language pathologist about treatments available for neuro-cognitive issues in long covid patients.
Long COVID can include a wide range of health problems that can last weeks, months, or even longer.
Some patients experience neuro-cognitive problems.
Dana Hodges, a speech-language pathologist, says she has seen short-term memory affected.
“I am seeing the inability for them to be able to organize and process information. They’re having trouble finding the right word. We call that word finding. So, it will make it look as though they didn’t know what they were talking about or having trouble communicating.”
Hodges says many people dealing with long-COVID describe their symptoms as brain fog.
“That’s how they know that something’s quite not right. Because, they go back to work after covid, and they’re like, wait, I’m not thinking the same. I’m not as quick on my feet. I’m having trouble, you know, communicating. I’m having trouble focusing and being attentive. Those things were not present prior to covid.”Dana Hodges, speech-langauge pathologist, Bon Secours St. Francis
There are treatments and therapies to help you return to how you were functioning before COVID.
It all starts with a thorough assessment.
“I find out what they were able to do at baseline and what they’re having trouble with now. I also give them a cognitive assessment that looks at their memory. It also looks at their orientation, their attention, their processing, and all areas of their brain. Then I take that test, I score it, and based on their scores, I determine if treatment is necessary, and for how long,” Hodges said.
Neuro-cognitive treatments are usually tailored to each patient’s needs.
“Let’s look at your day. Let’s figure out how we can maybe decrease some of the workload that you’re having to allow more frequent breaks, more frequent time for you to kind of get your thoughts together. Let’s see how we can minimize your distractions so that you’re able to focus,” Hodges said.
A speech pathologist, like Hodges, will teach you strategies you can implement at home and at work to strengthen your cognitive function.
Hodges says it’s all about “advocating for themselves to say, “I have to focus on this one thing, and I have to complete it”. She goes on to say, “It’s starting a task and finishing a task”.
Some long-covid patients will need therapy just once a week, others more frequently.
“The majority of my treatment plans with these patients have been anywhere from six to eight weeks. I’ve not had a treatment plan extend past that,” Hodges said.
If you think that you may be struggling with cognitive issues, as a result of long COVID, reach out to your health care provider for a referral to a speech pathologist.