A study in The Lancet Psychiatry identified brain complications in seriously ill coronavirus patients, with many having suffered strokes due to blood clots, with others showing signs of brain inflammation or other neurological symptoms.
Speaking to the BBC, one of the study’s authors, Professor Tom Solomon, said: “It's clear now that this virus does cause problems in the brain whereas initially, we thought it was all about the lungs.
“Part of it is due to lack of oxygen to the brain. But there appear to be many other factors, such as problems with blood clotting and a hyper-inflammatory response of the immune system. We should also ask whether the virus itself is infecting the brain.”
Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association, said: “We are increasingly concerned about recent studies suggesting COVID-19 could lead to an increase in the number of patients sustaining acquired brain injuries.
“Any such increase would see demand for Headway services grow at a time when resources are stretched, and charities such as ours are facing unprecedented financial crises.
“We urgently need more data to clarify the risk and any increase in the number of people requiring support and rehabilitation.
“It is also imperative that charities providing specialist services to those affected by brain injury are supported through the financial crisis to ensure we’re still here to help the increasing number of people who need us.”Back