Neuropsychological Features of Severe Hospitalized Coronavirus Disease 2019 Patients at Clinical Stability and Clues for Postacute Rehabilitation

Francesco Negrini, Irene Ferrario, Daniele Mazziotti, Marzia Berchicci, Maurizio Bonazzi, Alessandro de Sire, Stefano Negrini, Laura Zapparoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To report the cognitive features of patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) entering the postacute phase, to understand whether COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome itself could result in long-term cognitive deficits, and to determine whether neuropsychological treatment after the acute stage might represent a specific rehabilitation need. Design: Case series. Setting: Rehabilitation hospital. Participants: We assessed the general cognitive functioning through tablet-supported video calls in 9 of 12 consecutive patients (N=9) admitted to the hospital at least 30 days earlier for acute respiratory distress syndrome due to COVID-19. Three patients were excluded based on the exclusion criteria. None of the patients presented cognitive symptoms before hospitalization. Main Outcome Measure: General cognitive functioning, measured using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) test. Results: A general cognitive decay was observed in 3 patients (33.3%) who had a pathologic score on the MMSE, with a specific decline in attention, memory, language, and praxis abilities. The cognitive malfunctioning appears to be linearly associated with the length of stay (in d) in the intensive care unit (ICU). The longer the amount of time spent in the ICU, the lower the MMSE score, indicating a lower global cognitive functioning. Conclusions: Our results indicate that some patients with COVID-19 might also benefit from neuropsychological rehabilitation, given their possible global cognitive decay. The link between neuropsychological functioning and the length of stay in the ICU suggests that neurocognitive rehabilitative treatments should be directed explicitly toward patients who treated in the ICU, rather than toward every patient who experienced acute respiratory distress syndrome owing to COVID-19. However, given the limitation of a case series study, those hypotheses should be tested with future studies with larger samples and a longer follow-up period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-158
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cognition
  • Coronavirus
  • Neuropsychology
  • Rehabilitation
  • SARS virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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