Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19: An Electroencephalography and Magnetic Resonance Neuroimaging Study of the Elderly in our Communities
As the Covid 19 pandemic continues, it is becoming clear that very many people are being affected by “long-haul” symptoms, after they are no longer infectious. The long-haul symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, and cognitive and psychiatric complaints suggest that COVID‑19 is having an impact on the brain. Literature is suggesting that possibly hundreds of thousands of Canadians and millions of people around the world could ultimately struggle with these symptoms, which impact activities of daily living and quality of life. It is expected that the elderly living in our communities will be particularly impacted, as they are at elevated risk of infection and are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. Although much attention has been paid to the risks of COVID‑19 for the elderly in long-term care, community-dwelling older adults are very important to study because they may be at elevated risk of cognitive decline due to COVID-19, placing additional burden on caregivers and the health care system. Typically under-served by clinical health research, this important sector of our society is the particular focus of the proposed research. We are undertaking a project called NeuroCOVID19, that encompasses behavioural assessments of sensation, cognition and emotion; symptom self-reports; electroencephalography (EEG) of the electrical signals of the brain; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. We will apply NeuroCOVID19 to measure the effects of long-haul COVID‑19 in the elderly living in Toronto communities, in comparison to a control group of elderly individuals who were not infected. From this work we expect to improve understanding of how COVID‑19 affects the brain in the elderly, and to translate this knowledge so that patient-specific brain treatments can be implemented to improve the health of very many Canadians.