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UCSD Health studies impacts of neurological COVID symptoms

Posted at 6:57 AM, Jun 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-18 09:57:08-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - It’s been more than two years, with still plenty of questions and answers coming about when it comes to COVID-19 and long hauler symptoms.

One person looking for answers is Jessica Blake.

“I got myoclonus with it. So those are the muscle jerking, involuntary shock-like muscle spasms. So that has been difficult to do deal with," Blake said. "Those symptoms presented on day 5 of when I had COVID in 2020 and I’ve had them ever since."

Blake is one of the more than 50 participants who took part in a study by Doctor Jennifer Graves and other researchers at UCSD Health.

“I wanted to participate in this study, give back to the community and help other patients that have the neurological issues that I had,” Blake said.

The data’s looking into and tracking the impacts of neurological long-hauler symptoms.

"What we haven't had a lot of information about is how do these symptoms evolve over time, what happens to these individuals suffering from neurologic complications of COVID," Graves said.

And it’s finding out they’re sticking around for some longer than they’d like.

“And, encouragingly, while most patients saw some improvements in the symptoms scores over the course of six months, two-thirds of individuals still had persistent neurological complications of COVID,” Graves said.

Graves says the symptoms went from headaches and fatigue to more concentration and memory issues.

“So, about 10 percent of individuals had stable cognitive complaints or a few even got worse over time,” Graves said.

Their findings also found that some people developed a tremor in the limbs and even issues with moving their limbs or walking.

The hope with this data is the medical community has another tool to help those who contract the virus.

“The other is that we can begin to decide how we can prevent this. By quantify this and seeing how the symptoms evolve over time, we can decide if we need to intervene if this is an immune-driven phenomenon which we suspect.” Graves said.

As the study of the impact of long-haul COVID continues, Blake is glad there’s data for others to lean on going forward.

“I think that anyone that can participate in studies like this so that researchers are able to collect the data in order to find out the underlying cause,” Blake said.

The research team plans to continue checking with the study participants annually for up to 10 years. Also, they plan to study how different variants of the virus and vaccines impact long-haul neurological symptoms.