We present two patients who developed neurogenic stuttering after long COVID-19 related to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Both patients experienced both physical (e.g., fatigue) and cognitive difficulties, which led to impaired function of attention, lexical retrieval, and memory consolidation. Both patients had new-onset stuttering-like speech dysfluencies: Blocks and repetitions were especially evident at the initial part of words and sentences, sometimes accompanied by effortful and associated movements (e.g., facial grimaces and oro-facial movements). Neuropsychological evaluations confirmed the presence of difficulties in cognitive tasks, while neurophysiological evaluations (i.e., electroencephalography) suggested the presence of "slowed" patterns of brain activity. Neurogenic stuttering and cognitive difficulties were evident for 4-5 months after negativization of SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal swab, with gradual improvement and near-to-complete recovery.
It is now evident that SARS-CoV-2 infection may significantly involve the central nervous system, also resulting in severe and long-term consequences, even if the precise mechanisms are still unknown. In the present report, long COVID-19 resulted in neurogenic stuttering, as the likely consequence of a "slowed" metabolism of (pre)frontal and sensorimotor brain regions (as suggested by the present and previous clinical evidence). As a consequence, the pathophysiological mechanisms related to the appearance of neurogenic stuttering have been hypothesized, which help to better understand the broader and possible neurological consequences of COVID-19.