Cases of brain complications linked to COVID-19, like strokes, delirium, and other neurological complications are reported from most countries where there have been large outbreaks of the disease, a new study says.
According to the scientists, including those from the University of Liverpool in the UK, COVID-19 has been associated mostly with problems like difficulty breathing, fever, and cough.
However, in a review of studies, published in The Lancet Neurology, the researchers said other problems such as confusion, stroke, inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, and nerve disease can also occur in COVID-19 patients.
In the study, the researchers assessed patients hospitalised in the UK for COVID-19, and found a range of neurological and psychiatric complications that may be linked to the disease.
They assessed COVID-19 studies from across the globe, and found almost 1,000 patients with COVID-19-associated brain, spinal cord, and nerve disease.
"Whilst these complications are relatively uncommon, the huge numbers of COVID-19 cases globally mean the overall number of patients with neurological problems is likely to be quite large," said Suzannah Lant, a co-author of the study from the University of Liverpool.
According to the scientists, one of the complications found to be linked to COVID-19 is encephalitis -- an inflammation and swelling of the brain.
"It is really important that doctors around the world recognise that COVID-19 can cause encephalitis and other brain problems, which often have potentially devastating, life-changing consequences for patients," said Ava Easton, another co-author of the study from the University of Liverpool.
While such patients are present in several parts of the world, the scientists said many of these reports are lacking in detail.
They said the data from individual patients in different regions of the world need to be pooled together to get a more complete picture.