COVID-19 may change the brain, we heard from Gwenaëlle Douaud, PhD. A study comparing brain scans from people before and after SARS-CoV-2 infection suggests that even minor cases of COVID-19 may cause a loss of gray matter in the orbitofrontal cortex and parahippocampal gyrus (the regions of the brain associated with smell). Study participants who had COVID-19 also showed a greater cognitive decline between their two scans than people in a control group. The decline was associated with the atrophy of a specific part of the cerebellum linked to cognition.

Seated tai chi is as effective as traditional stroke rehab, we heard from Jie Zhao, PhD. In a recent study, researchers developed a tai chi routine that people who had hand and arm weakness or partial paralysis from a recent ischemic stroke could do from a chair or wheelchair. Half of the 160 study participants followed the routine and the other half followed a standard stroke rehabilitation program. At three months, the people in the tai chi group had equal or greater improvement in balance control, hand and arm strength, shoulder range of motion, activities of daily living, and symptoms of depression. The American Heart Association’s/American Stroke Association’s Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke recommend that people start stroke rehabilitation within seven days and continue for up to six months after a stroke. Sitting tai chi can be practiced in a chair or wheelchair, requires no special equipment and costs almost nothing.

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