Among the various side effects reported by COVID suffers, “brain fog” is among the most frustrating. Now, a research team at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York is exploring no deposit bonus codes gaming to determine whether an online casino video game can treat the symptoms.
By now, most of us know that COVID-19 can cause fever, coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath. There are also many side effects of COVID-19, some of which can last months or longer -- damage to organs including heart, lungs and brain, fatigue, coughing, joint pain, chest pain, muscle pain, headaches, depression/anxiety, loss of taste or smell, fever, dizziness, coughing and more. Medical professionals do not yet know how long these symptoms will last or why some people experience long-term symptoms and others do not.
There’s one neurological symptom that COVID-19 survivors commonly report that is hard to be measured by medical testing – “brain fog.” Brain fog is the term used to describe a neurological symptom that involves memory loss, lack of mental clarity, feeling “out of it,” lack of ability to concentrate, confusion, headaches, and/or a combination of these symptoms.
Brain fog is what you might experience when you’re under stress or the day after a night of poor sleep. But many people who recover from COVID are reporting that their brain fog goes on and on, even after other symptoms disappear.
Researchers don’t know why COVID-19 causes brain fog. Some suspect that both psychological and physiological factors play a role but there is no firm evidence to support this. Since the virus is neuro-invasive -- meaning that it can enter your brain tissue – the case has also been made that it’s purely physiological.
Some COVID-19 patients develop complications such as encephalopathy which involves damage to the brain. One study discovered that, weeks after recovery, some COVID-19 patients showed increased levels of inflammatory cytokines in the fluid surrounding their brains.
These are molecules that are produced by the immune system to encourage inflammation and they may be hindering the ability of the brain neurons to communicate with each other, thus contributing to brain fog.
Another possible cause could be microstructural changes in the hippocampus that have been observed in COVID-19 patients.
Researchers are still trying to understand how these physiological issues, as well as psychological issues such as isolation, depression, stress, dietary changes, decreased physical activity and medication side effects, contribute to the brain fog that seems to be so prevalent among survivors of COVID-19.
Many medical personnel believe that the neurological symptoms such as brain fog could be even more widespread than originally thought -- up to 69 percent of people who have experienced severe COVID may be suffering from such symptoms.
Prescription Video Game
A group of doctors are now beginning a study that will test a prescription video game that, they hope, can address COVID-19 ‘brain fog’.
Faith Gunning, a neuropsychologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, is examining whether the EndeavorRX video game, made by Akili Interactive, can treat brain fog symptoms. EndeavorRX is the first video game to receive approval from the Federal Food and Drug Administration for prescription as a medical treatment. The FDA gave its approval for treatment for kids between the ages of 8 and 12 who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Gunning wants it to be used more widely. While reviewing the game, she says, she began to consider whether people who were suffering from post-COVID-19 brain fog were experiencing similar symptoms to those targeted by the game.
She has designed a study that will test the effects of the EndeavorRX game on people who have recovered from COVID-19 and are experiencing cognitive problems. “We need more interventions in general, in cognitive and mental health, that we can get out into the community,” said Gunning.
Game developer Akili will partner with Weill Cornell Medicine to investigate whether the AKL-T01 digital therapy is effective in improving cognitive health in people who have recovered from COVID-19. Two groups will be formed, one which will play the EndeavorRX game and one which will not. The two groups’ outcomes will be measured and compared.
Participants will include adult males and females who have recovered from COVID-19 and have a documented deficiency in cognitive function. No participants will be accepted to study if they have a history of neurologic disorder prior to their COVID-19 diagnosis. This includes people with Alzheimer's, previous stroke, dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or a brain tumor.
Also deemed unacceptable test subjects are people who are suspected to be at risk of attempted suicide, have a substance abuse disorder, have a history of seizures, use psychoactive drugs or have had a previous exposure to AKL-%01.
Gunning told The Verge that she embarked on the study because she was intrigued by the game. “I’d already been working with the video game for a few years. It really does target an important function: the ability to do more than one thing at a time.
It improves it, and we’ve seen the game improve it in people with ADHD, in older adults, and there’s some indication it helps in people with multiple sclerosis. It targets these really important cognitive skills, and it’s really engaging.
One of the issues that you often find with cognitive interventions is that, frankly, they’re boring. So people won’t do them. And if people won’t do them, they’re not going to work.”
Gunning said that preliminary observations on older adults with cognitive issues (non COVID-related) who play the game indicate that playing the game does seem to create positive changes in the brain such as improved connectivity within brain networks and improved mood.
Could this game help COVID survivors who are coping with brain fog? Gunning isn’t ready to commit. But she’s optimistic. “We don’t think everybody who’s recovering from COVID-19 needs cognitive intervention,” she said to The Verge. But there is enough data that suggests that a significant number of people who have suffered from COVID-19 will have some cognitive issues.
These disturbances aren’t just specific to people recovering from COVID-19; we see them across a lot of conditions that impact the brain. I think if we can improve those functions, regardless of what’s causing them, we can improve their daily lives. We’re looking for two main outcomes: cognitive skills and daily functioning. Because really, that’s the goal. We’re talking about COVID-19 disrupting people’s ability to function in their everyday lives.”