A new study shows up to 80% of COVID-19 patients have experienced neurological symptoms. The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study of 509 patients found the coronavirus can affect more than the respiratory system, with some alarming potential impacts to the brain.
Common symptoms of the virus are loss of smell, fever, fatigue, and respiratory issues. But this study found many patients also experienced muscle aches, headaches, and encephalopathy (defined as a disease in which the functioning of the brain is affected by some agent or condition such as a viral infection or toxins in the blood). Encephalopathy can affect memory, cognitive abilities, personality changes, and cause inflammation of the spinal cord. Not so common are manifestations such as stroke, seizures, and ataxia, which is a drunk-like state.
Other worldwide studies reveal some COVID-19 patients were diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This rare disorder happens when the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, eventually leading to paralysis. A clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine was recently put on hold after triggering a neurological reaction, transverse myelitis, in one of the test participants.
Scientists say more study is needed on the potential long-term effects of coronavirus on the brain.