Prominent Fatigue but No Motor Fatigability in Non-Hospitalized Patients With Post-COVID-Syndrome

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Objectives: Fatigue is a frequent and often disabling symptom in patients with post-COVID syndrome. To better understand and evaluate the symptom of motor fatigue in the context of the post-COVID syndrome, we conducted treadmill walking tests to detect the phenomenon of motor fatigability or to evaluate whether evidence of organic lesions of the motor system could be found, similar to patients with multiple sclerosis.
Method: Twenty-nine non-hospitalized patients with post-COVID syndrome completed the Fatigue Scale for Motor and Cognitive Function (FSMC) questionnaire to determine the trait component of subjective fatigue before they were tested on a treadmill walking at a moderate speed for up to 60 min or until exhaustion. During the walking test oxygen uptake, ventilation and acceleration data of both feet were collected. To determine motor performance fatigability, the Fatigue Index Kliniken Schmieder (FKS) was calculated using the attractor method.
Results: The average walking duration was 42.7 ± 18.6 min with 15 subjects stopping the walking test prematurely. The FSMC score revealed a severe cognitive (37.6 ± 8.2) and motor (37.1 ± 7.8) fatigue averaged over all subjects but only two subjects showed an FKS above the normal range (>4), representing performance fatigability. There was no significant correlation between subjective fatigue (FSMC) and FKS as well as walking time. Absolute values of oxygen uptake and ventilation were in the normal range reported in literature (r = 0.9, p < 0.05), although eight subjects did not produce a steady-state behavior.
Conclusion: Almost all patients with post-COVID syndrome and subjectively severe motor fatigue, did not show motor fatigability nor severe metabolic anomalies. This is argued against organic, permanent damage to the motor system, as is often seen in MS. Many of the patients were - to our and their own surprise - motorically more exertable than expected.

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post-COVID-syndrome, gait analysis, attractor method, motor fatigability, motor fatigue
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ISO 690WEICH, Christian, Christian DETTMERS, Romina SAILE, Luise SCHLEICHER, Manfred VIETEN, Michael JÖBGES, 2022. Prominent Fatigue but No Motor Fatigability in Non-Hospitalized Patients With Post-COVID-Syndrome. In: Frontiers in Neurology. Frontiers Media. 2022, 13, 902502. eISSN 1664-2295. Available under: doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.902502
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@article{Weich2022-07-01Promi-57951,
  year={2022},
  doi={10.3389/fneur.2022.902502},
  title={Prominent Fatigue but No Motor Fatigability in Non-Hospitalized Patients With Post-COVID-Syndrome},
  volume={13},
  journal={Frontiers in Neurology},
  author={Weich, Christian and Dettmers, Christian and Saile, Romina and Schleicher, Luise and Vieten, Manfred and Jöbges, Michael},
  note={Article Number: 902502}
}
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