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Video game may help long-COVID sufferers

Video game may help with long COVID symptoms
Video game may help with long COVID symptoms 02:16

MIAMI – As many as 23 million Americans have developed what's known as long COVID, according to federal estimates.

Symptoms of the disease can persist for weeks, months, even years.

CBS Miami has more on an experimental treatment for long COVID that uses a video game to improve symptoms of brain fog.

For those struggling with long COVID, the symptoms can take a heavy toll.

Long COVID patient Barbara VanMeter-Nivens, "I almost feel like long COVID has taken my life away and I want it back."

Right now, it's unclear why some get long COVID while others do not.

Symptoms vary but can include:


Heart and respiratory problems (like shortness of breath),

Joint and muscle pain, and

Neurological issues (including what's known as brain fog).

"I feel like there's a virus in my brain and it's changing things in my brain because I can't think. I can't remember," says VanMeter-Nivens.

"Often people are complaining of memory problems and when you dig in you find out the deficits are inattention," says psychologist James Jackson with the ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt University.

Jackson says the inability to pay attention is the underlying issue for brain fog.

So he decided to test an experimental treatment.

His patients play a video game.

"When we opened the door to this research, when we invited patients to participate, there was a stampede."

There's even a dose prescribed: 25 minutes a day, five days a week for eight weeks.

Jackson says his long-COVID patients are finding it helpful.

"Is it going to translate into you being able to do your taxes? Are you going to be able to be organized? Are you going to be able to be driving? And when you stop the game, do all those benefits stop? We'll see at the end of the day if this works or not. If it does, I think it opens the door to a lot of possibilities."

The CDC says groups that might be more at risk for developing long COVID include:

Those who had severe illness from COVID-19,

People with underlying health conditions before being infected with the coronavirus,

Those who didn't get a COVID-19 vaccine, and

Those who experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after being sick from COVID.

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