Does COVID-19 lead to neurological complications?

May 7, 2020

Many individuals with rare neuroimmune disorders have concerns about the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 leading to new or additional neurological complications. There is still a vast amount about COVID-19 that remains unanswered. So far, the available data indicate neurologic complications are overall rare and do not seem to be common on a population-level. There does appear to be an increased number of cases of stroke in COVID-19 patients that has also been noted in the media. The information is being monitored by public health officials, clinicians and scientists. The blood clotting problem that seems to be related to COVID-19 infection in some COVID-19 patients requires further study. There have been a few case reports of varying quality that have been published about other neurological complications after a COVID-19 diagnosis. As with all viral illnesses, there may be some cases of Guillain-Barré or acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, but again, these appear to be rare and no notable increase in the frequency of these conditions with COVID-19 has been established so far. Furthermore, it does not appear that individuals with rare neuroimmune disorders, like acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, acute flaccid myelitis, MOG antibody disease, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, optic neuritis, or transverse myelitis are experiencing worse outcomes than those without these conditions.

If you or someone you know does appear to be experiencing new neurologic complications in the setting of COVID-19, or is having difficulty accessing a neurologist for consultation, please let us know via email at [email protected]. For additional information regarding neurologic complications noted in COVID-19 so far, you can review the resources below. It will take more time for the data necessary to become available to properly review and research the rare neuroimmune and other neurological disorders in the context of a COVID-19 diagnosis. As of this stage, we still don’t know enough to confirm if COVID-19 may lead to a diagnosis of a neurological disorder or worsen neurological conditions.

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