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Treatment Plans

Long COVID / PACS, Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome

COVID-19 is not only a respiratory disease but may also attack the brain and cause severe neurological disorders if not treated promptly.

Dr. Pallanti's Istituto di Neuroscienze offers targeted diagnostic and treatment plans for the long-term consequences of COVID-19.

Long Covid – Post Acute Covid-19 Syndrome (PACS)

What is Long COVID and what are the main symptoms

COVID-19 is not only a respiratory disease but also attacks the brain. The neurological disorders of the so-called "Long COVID" can be severe and, if not treated promptly, become chronic and persist over time. The most common symptoms that characterize Long COVID are represented by:

  • Localized or widespread pain;

  • Depression or anhedonia;

  • Tiredness and fatigue;

  • Memory and concentration disorders;

  • Sleep disorders lasting up to weeks.

Often nervous symptoms are associated with skin disorders, dermatitis, hair loss or digestive disorders.

Long COVID symptoms may occur:

  • Right after respiratory symptoms, even if mild or without fever;

  • 2-4 weeks after a negative swab;

  • In asymptomatic people who do not know they have contracted COVID;

  • Very rarely, after the vaccine.

How to prevent symptom chronicization

We remember well that the SARS epidemic of 2003 caused by the same family of the coronavirus has left serious neuropsychiatric disorders, of new onset in over 40% of patients. After a few years, there is evidence that these complications have chronicised if not properly and promptly treated; indeed, even after four years, these same subjects remained unable to resume a normal life and return to work.

Similarly, a recent study published on "Lancet" (one of the most authoritative scientific journals) showed that nearly one in three of those who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 are developing neurological disorders due to Long Covid. The Corriere della Sera reported that at least 500.000 of the 5 million Italians who have had COVID have not returned to work!

Dr. Stefano Pallanti was among the first in the world to publish an article regarding the effects of COVID on the Central Nervous System in 2020, stressing the importance of recognizing the neuropsychiatric symptoms of COVID in the early stages to avoid chronicity. Dr. Pallanti and his American colleagues at Harvard University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine predicted that COVID-19 caused severe neurological disorders and indicated the necessary tests for diagnosis and to direct treatment on the appropriate path.

In fact, the disorders highlighted by patients suffering from Long COVID are not purely psychological, but reflect the negative effect of the virus on the brain, which acts through mechanisms of inflammation and alteration of the immune response. Hence, psychological support cannot be sufficient to deal with the neurological symptoms related to COVID, but instead it is necessary to perform suitable laboratory tests that require advanced specialized skills.

How to treat the long-term symptoms caused by COVID-19?

The Istituto di Neuroscienze of Dr. Pallanti has organized a diagnostic-therapeutic path that allows a first psychological evaluation, associated with the necessary examinations, to establish an individualized treatment plan.

Available therapies for the treatment of Long Covid

When the symptoms of Long COVID are vague (such as tiredness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue), we expect them to disappear naturally or we undertake psychological therapies, which in these cases, on their own, prove useless.

There is no single universal cure for the treatment of Long COVID. However, it can be effectively addressed through a multidisciplinary, multimodal and individualized approach, based on the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the disorder and able to offer the most effective therapies for the specific symptoms presented by each person.

Our clinical experience and the most recent neuroscientific literature indicate the existence of multiple effective therapies for the treatment of disorders caused by Long Covid:

― Pharmacological therapy with psychotropic medicines;

― Natural therapies and anti-inflammatory-antioxidant phytotherapy;

― Microbiota rebalancing therapy;

― Neuromodulation Therapies;

― New healing-oriented psychotherapies: Well Being Therapy;

― Cannabis Clinic: CBD Oil;

― Mindfulness.

The choice and eventual combination of treatments for the cure of Long Covid depends on the specialized evaluation carried out by the professionals in our Center, in view of a high degree of individualization of treatment. In this way, we are able to offer the best available therapies to treat the specific symptoms presented by each person.

Multimodal multidisciplinary treatments

Neuromodulation Therapies

Neuromodulation Therapies represent an advantageous alternative to traditional medical treatments because they can be combined with each other and associated with additional medical and psychological therapies in order to achieve a highly personalized treatment.

Moreover, they are free of side effects. Read more in this page!

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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

The different types of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) represent non-invasive and non-pharmacological therapies that use magnetic field to stimulate or inhibit specific brain areas, proving to be highly effective for the treatment of many disorders, including Resistant Depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

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Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation (tDCS)

tDCS is a completely painless neuromodulation therapy that is particularly suitable for children because of the high degree of freedom of movement it allows, used in numerous treatment and rehabilitation settings.

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Photo-Bio-Modulation (PBM)

The latest technology for treating the Central Nervous System and particularly suitable for children, which uses increased cerebral blood flow to stimulate brain metabolism and promote neuroplasticity processes.

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Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) activates the nerve that connects several neurophysiological pathways that regulate neuroinflammation processes, enabling the improvement of essential body functions.

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At the Istituto di Neuroscienze, we use Neurofeedback to treat ADHD, Learning Disorders, Anxiety, Phobias, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it is also used in sports or by agencies such as NASA to improve alertness and promote high-level performance.

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The use of Neuroscience in the treatment of Long Covid

The method adopted by our center for the treatment of long-term disorders caused by Long Covid is based on the latest neuroscientific evidence with a view to highly personalized care.

Our diagnostic-therapeutic plan includes:

  • A precision diagnosis of the disorder, obtained through:

  1. In-depth clinical interviews;

  2. Specialized assessment of symptoms using appropriate psychometric tools;

  3. Accurate medical evaluation through in-depth laboratory analysis, not routine, but targeted for specific inflammatory markers or immunological activation;

  • An understanding of the mechanisms that produced it and its possible trajectory;

  • Interventions to rebalance the Central Nervous System plasticity and inflammatory response;

  • Therapies to rebalance the Gut Microbiota;

  • Interventions to rebalance the sleep-wake rhythm.

If undertaken quickly, this diagnostic-therapeutic plan can prevent chronicization of Long Covid-related disorders, which, as highlighted by the scientific studies published so far, is undoubtedly the greatest risk.

Dr. Pallanti's Credentials

Dr. Stefano Pallanti collaborates on research and implementation of clinical work with Dr. Eric Hollander of the Spectrum Neuroscience and Treatment Institute in New York City.

Furthermore, Dr. Stefano Pallanti is a member of the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition's Ethics Working Group of WHO and the Good Clinical Practice Alliance (GCPA).