Two B.C.-based companies are offering a free, three-month rehabilitation program for British Columbians suffering from brain fog as a result of their long COVID.
According to ABI Wellness in Langley, three in 10 cases of COVID-19 become long-COVID, and 75 per cent include cognitive and neurological symptoms, such as brain fog. Brain fog can slow down one’s processing speed, memory and recall, impacting a person’s ability to perform daily tasks.
Long COVID can also lead to neuroinflammation, microhemorrhages, signs of lack of oxygen, and cell death, added Shaun Porter, neuroscientist and chief operating officer at ABI Wellness.
“The research is showing that long COVID is in fact a brain injury, and it is causing physiologically, very similar issues that people who have had concussion and stroke go through,” he told Global News.
In previous years, ABI Wellness specialized in supporting patients with impaired cognition due to strokes, concussions or other brain injuries and illnesses. When the pandemic began, however, Porter said they recognized a “pattern” in the symptoms of those patients, and those recovering from COVID-19.
They partnered up with a Vancouver-based clinic, Eaton Cognitive Health Optimization Systems (ECHOS), to deliver the free virtual cognitive coaching program. It aims to address symptoms including fatigue, poor concentration, lack of mental clarity, confusion, memory problems, and executive function.
“These exercises in particular are really targeting key neural networks that are impacted,” said Porter. “We’re really all about listening to the patients. We want to hear from them and make sure this program is fitting what their needs are.”
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According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 100 different symptoms have been reported in association with long COVID. Relatively little is known about the condition, also known as post-COVID-19 condition, including how to diagnose it.
The public health agency and Statistics Canada have launched a survey to understand how common it is for people to feel lingering effects after an infection, data for which is scant.
“It’s really quite tragic, the lack of awareness around long COVID, really from the whole system,” said Porter. “Initially, we were — rightly so — focused on keeping people alive and getting vaccines out and reducing the number of cases.
“In that, we kind of dropped the ball quite a lot on the long COVID, people who weren’t recovering.”
The ramifications of not treating long COVID may be severe, Porter added.
“In terms of workforce, it terms of the whole fabric of society — it’s going to be really severely impacted in terms of long COVID and we need solutions now to help these people.”
All B.C. residents who have had COVID-19 and are experiencing cognitive symptoms are eligible to participate. Anyone wishing to participate can call 1-888-803-2467 for more information.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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