Post-acute COVID-19 Syndrome Negatively Impacts Physical Function, Cognitive Function, Health-Related Quality of Life, and Participation

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2022 Jan 1;101(1):48-52. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001910.


Objective: This report describes persistent symptoms associated with post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS) and the impact of these symptoms on physical function, cognitive function, health-related quality of life, and participation.

Design: This study used a cross-sectional observational study design. Patients attending Mount Sinai's post-acute COVID-19 syndrome clinic completed surveys containing patient-reported outcomes.

Results: A total of 156 patients completed the survey, at a median (range) time of 351 days (82-457 days) after COVID-19 infection. All patients were prevaccination. The most common persistent symptoms reported were fatigue (n = 128, 82%), brain fog (n = 105, 67%), and headache (n = 94, 60%). The most common triggers of symptom exacerbation were physical exertion (n = 134, 86%), stress (n = 107, 69%), and dehydration (n = 77, 49%). Increased levels of fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale) and dyspnea (Medical Research Council) were reported, alongside reductions in levels of regularly completed physical activity. Ninety-eight patients (63%) scored for at least mild cognitive impairment (Neuro-Qol), and the domain of the EuroQol: 5 dimension, 5 level most impacted was Self-care, Anxiety/Depression and Usual Activities.

Conclusions: Persistent symptoms associated with post-acute COVID-19 syndrome seem to impact physical and cognitive function, health-related quality of life, and participation in society. More research is needed to further clarify the relationship between COVID-19 infection and post-acute COVID-19 syndrome symptoms, the underlying mechanisms, and treatment options.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / virology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Physical Functional Performance*
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Social Participation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires