Arlington — Like many people, social worker Holly Taylor suffered at home through an exhausting case of COVID-19, recovered without hospitalization and was ready to get back to her life. She soon realized she had another battle to fight – this time with long-COVID. 

“I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t prioritize,” recalls the 45-year-old Taylor. “The slightest bit of stress – I’d get this brain fog. The biggest thing I noticed at first was at work. I’d open an email, read it five times and wonder, ‘What in the world is wrong with me? Why can’t I understand this email?’” 

Researchers estimate that up to 30% of COVID-19 survivors experience “long-haul” symptoms, including brain fog and fatigue. Qualified experts can help these patients regain function and quality of life. Holly Taylor was referred to Medical City Arlington’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Institute for cognitive assessment and outpatient therapy. 

“Many patients who weren’t ill enough to be in the hospital with COVID-19 still have trouble concentrating, focusing, multi-tasking and doing normal activities post-COVID,” says Kelly Lawson, a certified speech pathologist at Medical City Arlington. Lawson is skilled in helping patients with post-COVID, or “long-haul,” syndrome. “This can prevent them from returning to work and impact their ability to tend to family responsibilities. I love hearing my patients say that the skills I taught them can help them do their jobs better, feel more like themselves, more confident and successful.” 

In addition to working with hospitalized COVID-19 patients at Medical City Arlington, Lawson provides outpatient therapy for long-COVID patients with such complaints as brain fog -- through the hospital’s outpatient rehabilitation center. Individualized therapy aims to help patients improve memory, attention, organization and planning, problem-solving and other possible long-term impacts of COVID-19. 

From Taylor’s perspective, the cognitive therapy was “life-changing.” She says it enabled her to keep up with her work and even get a new job. 

“The therapy helped me work through the fog and slowly get back skills,” Taylor says. “It was instrumental in being normal again.” 

Lawson advises people struggling with long-COVID symptoms to talk with their doctor about a referral for cognitive assessment and therapy with a qualified speech pathologist. 

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and May 18 is National Speech-Language Pathologist Day, recognizing the life-altering treatments these specialists provide.

tags: covid-19