As initial concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic began to wane, a subsequent issue, termed “Long COVID,” emerged. Long COVID is believed to be associated with numerous adverse cognitive outcomes. However, are there any effective interventions available for it? A recent study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health provides preliminary evidence that a neuro-meditation program might be a beneficial intervention for cognitive function.
Long COVID describes the prolonged effects experienced after a COVID-19 infection. Symptoms can include fatigue, dyspnea, “brain fog,” pain, anxiety, depression, and a range of cognitive challenges. This condition can lead to significant impairment and disability. Given the novelty of the COVID-19 virus, treatments for these symptoms remain largely uncharted.
Mindfulness and well-being targeted interventions have proven effective in enhancing the quality of life for individuals with chronic ailments. Consequently, this study aimed to determine if similar methods could assist those suffering from Long COVID.
For their new study, the researchers in France recruited 34 Long COVID patients and 15 healthy participants. The Long COVID patients were divided at random into neuro-meditation and control groups. The intervention group underwent ten 30-minute sessions encompassing sound therapy, coach-led meditation, and chromotherapy over a span of 5 weeks.
Before the first session and after the final one, participants filled out self-assessment forms regarding sleep quality, mood, anxiety, depression, physical and mental fatigue, dyspnea, muscle pain, joint pain, and headaches. They also undertook five cognitive tasks gauging skills such as inhibition, fine motor abilities, visuospatial coordination, visual detection, visual-spatial differentiation, and short-term working memory.
The results indicated a marked difference in cognitive capabilities between Long COVID patients and the healthy controls during the initial sessions. However, after the interventions, the neuro-meditation group displayed a significant decrease in numerous aspects like physical and mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, headaches, anger, hostility, confusion, sleep disorders, and mood disturbances.
The progress in the intervention group’s self-reported symptoms through the neuro-meditation treatment was so pronounced that they no longer showed significant differences from the healthy controls during the post-test evaluation. Furthermore, the data revealed that the intervention group exhibited marked progress in cognitive tasks from the beginning to the end of the study, particularly noting faster reaction times and enhanced pattern comparison skills. This research provides encouraging evidence supporting the effectiveness of neuro-meditation programs for Long COVID patients.
This study marked a significant stride towards identifying a potential treatment for Long COVID sufferers. Nevertheless, certain limitations should be acknowledged. One key limitation was the absence of a traditional meditation group, making it challenging to distinguish the impacts of mindfulness from neuromodulation. Moreover, the post-test was administered only 7 days after the intervention concluded. Future studies should incorporate extended follow-up evaluations spanning several months to ascertain the longevity of the observed effects.
The study, “Positive Impacts of a Four-Week Neuro-Meditation Program on Cognitive Function in Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial“, was authored by Christophe Hausswirth, Cyril Schmit, Yann Rougier, and Alexandre Coste