As more research is published on how COVID-19 can affect the body, it has become clear that this perplexing respiratory illness can have several effects on the neurological system. This article will outline the mild to severe neurological deficits that healthcare professionals have shed light on throughout reports of COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.
Potential psychological sequelae of COVID-19 has centred around cognitive functioning – such as issues relating to confusion and disorientation, concentration issues, memory loss, or a difficulty processing information. These side effects, particularly experiencing severe confusion, is known as delirium and has been diagnosed as one of the most common neurological problems associated with COVID-19 thus far. Older people may be at greater risk of developing delirium, however, this is not to say that it cannot be seen in patients of any age suffering with severe infections. Majid Fotuhi, (MD, PhD, and medical director for APA) summarised that ‘neurological problems are not rare for COVID-19 patients’, and that ‘our best estimate so far is that 30% to 50% of hospitalized patients have neurological issues.’
Further psychological issues have related to emotional disturbance, depression, stress, irritability, and in acute cases, symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Studies have shown that the physical effects of COVID-19 on the brain can include headaches, dizziness, weakness, eye movement problems, seizures or even paralysis. With the well-known symptom of COVID-19 being a loss of taste and smell, it suggests that the virus can affect the nervous system. Thus, APA (American Psychological Association) also proclaimed that “COVID-19 has been found to cause blood clots, both large and small, that can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.” This information links with the findings of stroke being the most common neurological side effect besides delirium. NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) have reported that in some cases, COVID-19 has also increased the risk in developing Guillan-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that affects the nerves and can be triggered by the auto immune response to the virus.
As more data emerges, it is clear that healthcare services will need to expand to meet a growing need in rehabilitating the nation back to health. Our neurological sites such as Hunters Moor in Birmingham and Woodlands Neurorehabilitation Centre in York benefit from highly experienced on-hand neuropsychologists, clinicians and support workers who can offer 24/7 support and personal therapy for the psychological and physical effects post COVID-19.
Across Active Care Group and The Huntercombe Group, our neurological services are extending our care to those who are experiencing neuro side effects of COVID-19. For information regarding the care and support we offer for the lasting effects of long COVID, please contact our Referral team on 02039267481 or make an online enquiry here.