The symptoms of long COVID vary widely and are not well understood; UNMC hopes study changes that

The med center is still looking for study participants
Posted at 6:47 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 16:22:09-04

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — It has been more than six months since Ali O’Connor was first infected by COVID but her fight with the deadly virus is far from over.

“For me, my particular primary ailment is a shortness of breath, rib pain and lung pain. That’s the primary. Also some little dexterity issues I’ve had problems with," said O’Connor.

Ali is one of the hundreds of patients that Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals has treated at their Post-COVID clinic, which specializes in rehabilitating those suffering from Post-COVID Syndrome, better known as long COVID.

But what exactly is long COVID, is up for discussion.

“There is not quite one way of presenting with it. Sometimes, people will have a symptom or two on the mild side. Some people might have half a dozen or more symptoms. They can be very debilitating, there could be some people who can’t work,” said Dr. Andrew Vasey with UNMC.

Vasey is a part of a UNMC team that will be participating in a $450 million dollar National Health Institute study to look into the full scope of long COVID symptoms and how many Americans are still suffering from the virus. They hope the study will give providers more tools to treat the symptoms and give some peace of mind to people like O’Connor.

“It's not hard to go down that COVID pit and that rabbit hole. When any other something happens physically with you to think, your mind immediately goes to, 'Is that COVID? Is that from COVID? Now what?'” said O’Connor.

The study will analyze 20,000 adults and children, and their experiences after COVID, with around 85 of them being studied at UNMC.

O’Connor isn’t a participant in the UNMC study, but she knows all too well how challenging it can be to come back after COVID.

“The journey has been, I’ve learned with COVID, it's a one step forwards — well, two steps forward now with Madonna — and two steps back. It's a unique virus,” said O’Connor

UNMC is still looking for participants and if you feel you would be a good fit for the study, you can reach out to researchers at with your name and description of your symptoms.

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