The Cognitive Disorders Unit of Lleida, in a project financed by the Marató to study the cognitive sequelae of COVID-19
Coordinated in Lleida by the clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist at the University Hospital of Santa Maria, professor at the UdL and researcher at IRBLleida, Anna Carnes Vendrell
The Cognitive Disorders Unit of Lleida, located at the University Hospital of Santa Maria de Lleida, is one of the 22 units that are part of the NAUTILUS project to promote an artificial intelligence platform to study the cognitive sequelae in people who have suffered COVID-19. ‘Cognition, emotion/behaviour, functionality and brain connectivity in patients recovered from COVID-19 (NAUTILUS)' is the name of the project led by the Terrassa Health Consortium, the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), which has been funded in the last call for proposals of the Marató.
Anna Carnes Vendrell, clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist at the University Hospital of Santa Maria, lecturer at the University of Lleida (UdL) and researcher in the Clinical Neurosciences research group at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Lleida (IRBLleida), is coordinating Lleida's participation in the project. Lleida's participation will consist of recruiting patients who have suffered COVID-19, whether they are at home or have been hospitalised. The study consists of an in-person visit to the Cognitive Disorders Unit for a neuropsychological evaluation, as well as complementary tests (blood tests, smell test, etc.), and the sending of questionnaires for the person to answer at home.
"Between 40 and 60% of people admitted to the ICU for COVID-19 have neurological problems such as headaches, dizziness, loss of smell, epileptic seizures.... In addition, we are also seeing that they may suffer alterations such as lack of attention, forgetfulness, organisational and planning difficulties or cognitive slowdown. In some cases, these symptoms may last beyond the illness. These people can become part of the group of people who suffer from persistent COVID-19, which represents 10% of people who have suffered from the virus according to studies," explained Carnes. For this reason, this multicentre study has been launched, which will allow the study of cognitive, psychological/emotional and functional alterations in people who have suffered from COVID-19. In order to be able to carry it out, it has been presented to different calls for proposals, one of them in the Marató de TV3, which has been granted.
In the 2020 edition of the Marató, dedicated to COVID-19, 229 projects were presented, which were evaluated by 95 international scientists specialising in this field in terms of their quality, methodology and relevance. A total of 36 projects were funded. The evaluation was managed by the Catalan Agency for Health Quality and Evaluation of the Catalan Ministry of Health. In accordance with the proposal of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the La Marató de TV3 Foundation, the Board of Trustees agreed to distribute €12,469,544.83 among the 36 projects.
In addition to participation in the NAUTILUS project, Lleida has received funding to promote the project 'A systems biology approach to understand COVID-19 pathophysiology and predict outcome (SISTEMA-BIO-COVID)' led by the researcher, David de Gonzalo, from the Translational Research in Respiratory Medicine research group at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Lleida (IRBLleida). This project will be carried out in collaboration with the researcher, Jesús Francisco Bermejo Martín, from the Fundación Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Salamanca (IBSAL).
Anna Carnes Vendrell, researcher of the Clinical Neurosciences research group