New study warns of brain damages linked to COVID-19

Henrietta Strickland
July 9, 2020

Nine of the 12 cases of those with brain inflammation conditions were diagnosed with ADEM, which is known to be triggered by viral infections.

The review, which included studies from China, Italy and the US among others, found nearly 1000 patients with COVID-19-associated brain, spinal cord and nerve disease.

The condition - which can follow on from minor infections such as colds - sees immune cells activated to attack the fatty protective coating that covers nerves.

And over in Canada, neuroscientist Adrian Owen has kickstarted a global online study revolving around people who either have or have had COVID-19, testing their cognitive skills through a series of fun and engaging activities they can do on their computers.

"The scrutiny that the pandemic attracts means it would be very unlikely that there is a large parallel pandemic of unusual brain damage linked to COVID-19", said Anthony David, director of UCL's Institute of Mental Health.

Professor Tom Solomon, senior author on the paper and Director of the Global COVID-Neuro Network, added: "Although such patients are being seen everywhere the virus occurs, numerous reports are lacking in detail".

Owen runs an worldwide research endeavor at covidbrainstudy.com where patients can log in to perform several cognitive tests to check whether their brain functions have changed since getting infected with the coronavirus.

According to the researchers, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery usually sees one adult with ADEM per month; however, during the study period this increased to at least one per week, a concerning pattern said the team.

Writing in the journal "Brain", the scientists at University College London's Institute of Neurology called for systematic surveillance of complications as a result of the virus. Further research is needed to identify why patients were developing these complications.

"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage Covid-19 can cause", said Ross Paterson, who co-led the study.

"Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes".

'People recovering from the virus should seek professional health advice if they experience neurological symptoms'.

Cases of brain disease linked to COVID-19 are occurring across the globe, a new review by University of Liverpool researchers has shown.

Such knowledge, she added, 'will be paramount in the collective effort to support and manage patients in their treatment and recovery'.

'This paper adds to the emerging evidence for a wide range of potentially severe neurological complications of COVID-19 beyond its effects on the respiratory system, ' said neuroscientist Timothy Nicholson, who was not involved in the study.

Joint senior author Dr Hadi Manji said: "Our study amalgamates, for the first time, the clinical presentations of patients with Covid-19 neurological disease with MRI and laboratory features including, in one case, a brain biopsy".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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