Grant Application

Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD

Proposed Innovation

COVID-19 has threatened the health of millions of Americans and others around the world. Some of those who recover from the virus experience lingering symptoms, or long COVID. One of the most common symptoms is a persistent cognitive fog, or brain fog, as well as depression.

This project will evaluate the effectiveness of two strategies for treating patients with moderate or severe brain fog resulting from long COVID. Patients will be split into two groups receiving one of two treatments — stimulant medication or digital cognitive brain therapy (dCBT) with health coaching using a mobile app — over a 12-month period.

Improvements in Action

Through this project, 120 post-COVID patients from UPMC’s Post-COVID Recovery Clinic will be assessed using computerized neuropsychological testing to determine the type and severity of impairment. Half of these patients will be treated with a stimulant while the other half will receive health coaching via UPMC’s RxWell mobile app.

Follow-up evaluations will be used to determine the effectiveness of the treatments on patients’ cognitive impairment and depression, plus their satisfaction with life, work, ability level, and health care.

Intended Outcomes

This project is expected to show that rapid, accurate, and scalable assessment of cognitive impairment — along with targeted interventions — will lead to better recovery for patients. Findings from this project will inform and guide the design of larger-scale adaptive design clinical trial. This next phase will incorporate information from this preliminary study to personalize intervention strategies targeting specific impairments.