One-year cognitive follow-up of COVID-19 hospitalized patients

Eur J Neurol. 2022 Jul;29(7):2006-2014. doi: 10.1111/ene.15324. Epub 2022 Mar 29.


Background and purpose: Cognitive dysfunction has been observed following recovery from COVID-19. To the best of our knowledge, however, no study has assessed the progression of cognitive impairment after 1 year. The aim was to assess cognitive functioning at 1 year from hospital discharge, and eventual associations with specific clinical variables.

Methods: Seventy-six patients (aged 22-74 years) who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 were recruited. Patients received neuropsychological assessments at 5 (n = 76) and 12 months (n = 53) from hospital discharge.

Results: Over half (63.2%) of the patients had deficits in at least one test at 5 months. Compared to the assessment at 5 months, verbal memory, attention and processing speed improved significantly after 1 year (all p < 0.05), whereas visuospatial memory did not (all p > 0.500). The most affected domains after 1 year were processing speed (28.3%) and long-term visuospatial (18.1%) and verbal (15.1%) memory. Lower PaO2 /FiO2 ratios in the acute phase were associated with worse verbal long-term memory (p = 0.029) and visuospatial learning (p = 0.041) at 5 months. Worse visuospatial long-term memory at 5 months was associated with hyposmia (p = 0.020) and dysgeusia (p = 0.037).

Conclusion: Our study expands the results from previous studies showing that cognitive impairment can still be observed after 1 year. Patients with severe COVID-19 should receive periodic cognitive follow-up evaluations, as cognitive deficits in recovered patients could have social and occupational implications.

Keywords: COVID-19; cognition; long-COVID; neuropsychological evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders* / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / etiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests