Cognitive, behavioral, and psychological manifestations of COVID-19 in post-acute rehabilitation setting: preliminary data of an observational study

Neurol Sci. 2021 Oct 12;1-8. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05653-w. Online ahead of print.


Psychological, emotional, and behavioral domains could be altered in COVID-19 patients and measurement of variables within these domains seems to be mandatory. Neuropsychological assessment could detect possible cognitive impairment caused by COVID-19 and the choice of appropriate tools is an important question. Aim of this exploratory study was to verify the effectiveness of an assessment model for patients with COVID-19. Twelve patients were enrolled and tested with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), Anxiety and Depression Short Scale (AD-R), and the Neuropsychiatry Inventory (NPI), at the time of their entrance (T0) and discharge (T1) from a rehabilitative unit. Moreover, a follow-up evaluation after 3 months (T2) has been conducted on eight patients. Results showed that at baseline (T0), 58.3% of the patients reported a score below cut-off at MMSE and 50% at MoCA. Although a significant amelioration was found only in NPI scores, a qualitative improvement has been detected at all tests, except for MoCA scores, in the T0-T1 trend analysis. A one-way repeated measures analysis of variance showed a significant variation in AD-R depression score, considering the three-assessment time (T0, T1, and T2). The evaluation and tracking over time of the impact of COVID-19 on cognitive, psychological, and behavioral domains has relevant implications for rehabilitation and long-term assistance needs planning. The choice of assessment tools should consider patients vulnerability and match the best compromise among briefness, sensitivity, and specificity.

Keywords: Behavioral alterations; COVID-19; Neuropsychological deficit; Psychological assessment.