Even moderate COVID-19 can cause dangerous brain diseases

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In a new study, researchers found that COVID-19 can lead to a broad range of neurologic complications including stroke, seizures, movement disorders, inflammatory diseases, and more, even in moderate cases.

They examined people with neurologic symptoms and COVID and found a wide range of neurologic complications.

Yet the majority of these people did not require critical care, suggesting that neurologic complications may be common in people with moderate COVID-19 as well as those with severe disease.

The research was conducted by a team at Boston University School of Medicine.

In the study, the team checked 74 people who tested positive for COVID-19 and were evaluated for various brain conditions. The average age was 64. A total of 47 people had a prior history of neurologic disease.

At the time of hospitalization, 18 people had strokes, 15 had seizures and 26 people had a type of brain dysfunction that causes confusion and delirium.

Seven people had movement disorders, including five people with myoclonus, which involves sudden, brief twitching of the muscles.

Three people had traumatic brain injuries due to falls in their homes after developing COVID-19.

One person had signs of developing autoimmune encephalitis, a rare, complex disease where the body’s immune system attacks itself, yet these symptoms improved after the person received corticosteroids.

Ten people died in the hospital. The people who survived had a moderately severe disability, on average, at the time they left the hospital, compared to mild disability before their hospitalization.

A total of 27 people were able to return home with or without home health services, 20 went to skilled nursing facilities, including 11 who had previously been living at home, and nine went to acute rehabilitation centers, including eight who had been living at home.

Three people went to long-term acute care hospitals and five people were entered into hospice, either at home or as an inpatient.

The team says more research is needed to fully understand the brain complications associated with COVID-19 infection.

One author of the study is Pria Anand, M.D.

The study is published in Neurology Clinical Practice.

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