POST RECOVERY

Covid may leave you with long-term brain damage, says study

Other recovering patients suffer from numbness, weakness and memory problems

In Summary

• It was discovered that parts of the human brain in recovered Covid-19 patients were more likely to be enlarged.

• Report says neurological symptoms were presented in 55 per cent of the patients during the recovery stage and were seen three months later during follow up visits.

Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi gives the Covid-19 updat at Afya House on September 14.
LONG-TERM EFFECTS: Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi gives the Covid-19 updat at Afya House on September 14.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Getting infected with Covid-19 may leave you with a long-term brain damage, a study published in the medical journal The Lancet shows.

Eleven Chinese researchers conducted Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans (MRI) on 60 Covid-19-recovered patients.

They then compared the findings with 39 non-Covid-19 people of the same age and gender.

 
 

The study, ‘Cerebral Micro-Structural Changes in Covid-19 Patients – An MRI based three-month Follow Up’, says neurological symptoms were presented in 55 per cent of the patients during the recovery stage and were seen three months later during follow up visits.

They said the virus has the potential to attack the central nervous system as well, adding that recovered patients had shown a decline in the functioning of the brain parameters such as mean, axial and radial diffusivity.

These are used to assess the working of the brain nerves.

On doing a comparison between Covid-19 patients and those without the virus, the researchers noted that recovered patients showed structural changes relating to the loss of smell and memory.

“Even if patients recover well form the pneumonia condition, the neurological changes may cause a great burden,” the study says.

It was also discovered that parts of the human brain in recovered Covid-19 patients were more likely to be enlarged.

These enlarged parts included olfactory cortices, hippocampi, insulas, Heschl’s gyrus, Rolandic operculum and cingulate gyrus.

 
 

This comes even as a group of British neurosurgeons had earlier warned that the virus can cause serious damage to the brain and CNS.

In study findings published in the journal Brain, they said the virus does not only attack the respiratory tract and lungs but also can severely affect the vessels, nerves, the heart, kidneys and the skin.

The disease, they said, can cause severe brain damage even in patients with mild symptoms.

“Often, this damage is detected very late or not at all,” they said.

“There is evidence also Covid-19 causes inflammation in all your body systems so it not only affects your lungs and your respiratory system but affects other organs,” KMPDU secretary-general Chibanzi Mwachonda said.

The British study found that Covid-19 is causing long-term health problems in some patients. According to the study, many remain breathless and tired long after their recovery while other recovering patients suffer from numbness, weakness and memory problems.

Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi in the daily Covid-19 update on Tuesday acknowledged that similar reports have been received, adding that research conducted by local experts have shown that the virus in the country is no different from the virus that is circulating in different parts of the world.

“We have heard and seen reports that the virus can actually affect brain activity. We have seen that in different parts of the country where CT scans of the brain have shown an effect of Covid-19,” Mwangangi said.

A few months ago, medics in the country reported almost some form of inducing effect for diabetes from the virus among some patients.

“Remember we have often said and the DG has often elaborated there are many kinds of coronavirus and the one that we are dealing with seems to have effects beyond the respiratory system,” Mwangangi said.

“This means it seems to have effects beyond your chest and beyond coughing, it affects other organs. It is a multi-systemic sort of type of virus and so we are continuing to see these effects in the country.”

There continues to be emerging evidence and being a new disease no country in the world has been able to deal with, but researchers are working round the clock to ensure they find a vaccine in the next few months. 

Edited by R.Wamochie