Eight months after falling ill with covid-19, the 73-year-old woman couldn’t remember what her husband had told her a few hours before. She would forget to remove laundry from the dryer at the end of the cycle. She would turn on the tap at a sink and walk away.
Before covid, the woman had been doing bookkeeping for a local business. Now, she couldn’t add single-digit numbers in her head.
Was it the earliest stage of dementia, unmasked by covid? No. When a therapist assessed the woman’s cognition, her scores were normal.
What was going on? Like many people who’ve contracted covid, this woman was having difficulty sustaining attention, organizing activities, and multitasking. She complained of brain fog. She didn’t feel like herself.
But this patient was lucky. Jill Jonas, an occupational therapist associated with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who described her to me, has been providing cognitive rehabilitation to the patient, and she is getting better.
Cognitive rehabilitation is therapy for people whose brains have been injured by concussions, traumatic accidents, strokes, or neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. It’s a suite of interventions designed to help people recover from brain injuries, if possible, and adapt to ongoing cognitive impairment. Services are typically provided by speech and occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, and neurorehabilitation experts.
In a recent devel …