Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: Video game could help COVID long-haulers with brain fog

Posted at 7:39 AM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 07:39:35-04

As many as 23 million people in our country have developed what's called 'long-COVID' after getting the virus. Symptoms like brain fog can persist for weeks, months, and even years. But an experimental treatment involving a video game could help.

"I almost feel like long-COVID has taken my life away and I want it back," Barbara VanMeter-Nivens said.

It's not clear why some people get long-COVID, while others don't. Symptoms vary, but can include fatigue, heart and respiratory problems like shortness of breath, joint and muscle pain, and neurological issues like brain fog.

"I feel like there's a virus in my brain and it's changing things in my brain because I can't think. I can't remember," VanMeter-Nivens said.

"Often people are complaining of memory problems and when you dig in, you find out the deficits are inattention," Psychologist James Jackson with the ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt University said.

He said having trouble paying attention is the biggest issue for people dealing with brain fog, so he decided to test an experimental treatment. His patients play a video game.

"When we opened the door to this research, when we invited patients to participate, there was a stampede," Jackson said.

There's even a dose prescribed: 25 minutes a day, five days a week for eight weeks. Jackson said his long-COVID patients find it helpful.

"Is it going to translate into you being able to do your taxes? Are you going to be able to be organized? Are you going to be able to be driving? And when you stop the game, do all those benefits stop? We'll see at the end of the day if this works or not. If it does, I think it opens the door to a lot of possibilities," he said.

The CDC says groups who might be more at risk for developing long-COVID include people who had severe illness from the virus, people with underlying health conditions, people who didn't get a COVID-19 vaccine, and people who experience Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome during or after being sick from virus.