Wednesday, July 8, scientists have warned of a potential wave of brain injuries in the result of coronavirus infection, as new data indicate that COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis, delirium, writes Reuters.
A study conducted by researchers from University College London (UCL), described 43 cases of patients with COVID-19, which suffered a temporary brain dysfunction, stroke, nerve damage or other serious brain damage.
The study adds to recent similar work, which also found that the disease can damage the brain.
“If we are faced with a massive epidemic of brain injuries related to the pandemic — perhaps similar to the outbreak of encephalitis lethargic in the 1920s and 1930s, the years after the influenza pandemic of 1918 — is still unknown,” said Michael Zandi from the Institute of neurology, University of California, who was co-head of research.
COVID-19 — a disease caused by a novel coronavirus, is basically a respiratory disease that affects the lungs, but neuroscientists say they have new evidence of its effect on the brain.
“My concern is that we now have millions of people with COVID-19. And if in a year we will have 10 million of recovered individuals, and these people will have cognitive deficits… this will affect their ability to work and engage in everyday activities,” says Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist from Canada’s University of Western Ontario.
In the UCL study, published in the journal Brain, 9 patients with inflammation of the brain was diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which occurs most often in children and can be caused by viral infections.
The team said that their specialized clinic usually occurs in approximately one adult patient with ADEM in a month, but during the study period, this figure rose to at least one case a week, which they called “disturbing increase”.
“Considering that the disease exists only in a few months, we might not know what the long term could cause damage COVID-19, said Ross Paterson, who led the study. — Doctors should know about the possible neurological effects, since early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes”.
According to Owen, the new data emphasize the need for detailed research and data collection to assess the prevalence of such neurological and psychiatric complications.
He manages an international research project on covidbrainstudy.com where patients can register to pass a series of cognitive tests to see if anything had changed on their brain function after COVID-19.
“This disease affects a huge number of people,’ said Owen. — That’s why it’s so important to collect this information now.”