As the country braces for another potential, partial shutdown over rising coronavirus numbers, new studies are being produced about the effects the disease is having. One such study has fund that about one in seven COVID patients will suffer neurological problems, even though the virus does not directly infect the brain or the nerves.
Researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine reviewed medical cases for patients who developed neurological symptoms and conditions while they were being treated for COVID-19. Their results, which were published in in the journal Neurology, found that while neurological symptoms are not very common, they can be deadly, “rais[ing] a patient’s risk of dying while still in the hospital by 38 percent.”
A snapshot of the study’s findings
Here are some of the more significant findings, at a glance:
- 606 out of 4,491 adult NYU Langone COVID-patients developed neurological problems
- Most neurological symptoms were present within 48 hours of general coronavirus symptoms
- About half of all affected patients were age 71 or older
- 66 percent of affected patients were male
- 63 percent of affected patients were white
The symptoms ranged in severity from temporary confusion to strokes and seizures.
What causes the symptoms?
While the coronavirus is known to affect multiple organs, it is primarily a disease of the lungs. Once the lungs are affected, patients’ oxygen levels can drop. Oxygen deprivation to the brain can lead to any and all of the symptoms, including coma and brain damage. Steven L. Galetta, MD, senior investigator in the study, said “Our study results suggest that physicians need to be more aggressive in stabilizing body oxygen levels in patients with COVID-19 as a potentially key therapy for stopping, preventing and/or possibly reversing neurological problems.”
Why even a rare complication should be taken seriously
Based on the data, it does not appear that many people will be at risk of neurological complications if they develop COVID-19. That’s the good news.
The more worrisome news is that if a patient develops symptoms of neurological complications or problems, the chances are good that he or she will have to be intubated or undergo extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in order to oxygenate the blood. Both options could increase other risks. ECMO is a bedside surgical procedure, and it can lead to increased risk for blood clots, infections, bleeding, and stroke. Intubation can lead to a build up of fluid, aspiration, or bleeding, and increase the risk of injury to the throat, mouth and teeth. Intubation also requires anesthesia, which comes with its own risks.
We still don’t know all of the long-term effects of catching the coronavirus. For now, the safest thing you can do is take precautions when you interact with others, and to see a doctor if you feel sick no matter what you think you might have.
In the meantime, if you suffer a brain injury because of the negligence of someone else, Biby Law Firm is here to help. Our Tulsa TBI attorneys offer free consultations. Call us at 918.416.6351, or fill out our contact form.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.