Scientists warn of potential wave of COVID-linked brain damage

A study by researchers at University College London (UCL) indicates that COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications. The study, published in Brain, examined 43 COVID-19 patients who experienced such conditions as temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, and nerve damage.

A study by researchers at University College London (UCL) indicates that COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications. The study, published in Brain, examined 43 COVID-19 patients who experienced such conditions as temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, and nerve damage. In the study, nine patients who had brain inflammation were diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), typically seen in children and linked to viral infections. The researchers said they usually see approximately one adult patient with ADEM per month at their clinic in London, but this figure rose to at least one a week during the study period. Michael Zandi, PhD, at UCL's Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study, says: "Whether we will see an epidemic on a large scale of brain damage linked to the pandemic — perhaps similar to the encephalitis lethargica outbreak in the 1920s and 1930s after the 1918 influenza pandemic — remains to be seen." Adrian Owen, PhD, a neuroscientist at Western University in Canada, is overseeing a global research project at covidbrainstudy.com where patients can sign up to complete a series of cognitive tests to see if their brain functions have changed since contracting COVID-19.