A new study released in the journal Nature shows the effect of COVID-19 on the brain.
A study released this week in the journal Nature is showing the effects that even a mild case of COVID can have on the brain. Brain scans taken before and after COVID showed more loss of gray matter and tissue damage in people who had COVID than in those who did not.
The study, believed to be the first of its kind and included people aged 51 to 81, found shrinkage and tissue damage primarily in brain areas related to sense of smell; some of those areas are also involved in other brain functions, the researchers said.
“This study reinforces the importance of science and research helping us understand how the COVID-19 virus may be affecting the brain,” states Bancroft NeuroRehab Senior Neuropsychologist Dr. Claire McGrath.
What is particularly striking about the study is that most people who had COVID had relatively mild cases not involving hospitalizations. However, Dr. McGrath cautions that there is still more to learn.
“Although the study suggests that the virus affects the brain even after the infection seems to have passed, it is important for people to remember that we do not know how these changes in the brain affect people functionally. We also don’t know if these changes will improve on their own over time. A healthy brain can be resilient to infections, minor injuries and other difficulties. It is always important to take care of your health and your brain so you can fight back if you do get an infection.”
For those experiencing persistent symptoms — whether following a prolonged hospital stay or recovery at home — rehabilitation may be beneficial in managing physical, cognitive and emotional deficits following recovery of the virus.