On a scientific scale, the pandemic is still incredibly new. While acute symptoms are well-documented, scientists are just beginning to discover the long-term consequences of a COVID-19 infection. As more people recover from their acute infections, doctors are collecting data and studying the common problems faced by “recovered” patients.
One recent and alarming conclusion is that COVID-19 infections appear to be linked to long-term brain damage in certain people. Something about how the virus attacks the body sometimes leads to physical brain and personality changes. People infected with COVID-19 due to someone else’s negligence could face permanent and life-altering brain damage.
The Research Connecting COVID-19 with Brain Injuries
When something as serious as brain damage is linked to a disease, it’s critical to determine what’s causing that harm. There’s no single theory yet accepted regarding the root causes of COVID-19’s effect on the brain, but many scientists are investigating different causes.
There are two primary hypotheses under consideration. These two effects may explain both the personality changes people experience, as well as more benign symptoms like the loss of taste and smell.
The primary means through which doctors believe COVID-19 causes damage is through inflammation. People with the disease show signs of systemic inflammation. This includes swelling in many organ systems, including the skull lining. Any kind of systemic inflammation can put pressure on the brain, causing temporary personality changes or permanent damage depending on the location experiencing the most pressure.
Over time, inflammation can even break down the blood-brain barrier. This allows other harmful substances into the organ, causing more damage. As a result, untreated chronic COVID-19 could lead to cumulative damage over time.
COVID-19 and Micro Clots
Another promising study has linked COVID-19 infections with the formation of “micro clots” in the blood. These tiny clots are found in the blood of people with both acute and chronic cases of the disease.
While the exact cause of the micro clots isn’t yet clear, it’s hypothesized that these micro clots literally trap the chemicals a body creates to generate inflammation. These clots break down slowly, releasing the inflammatory molecules over time. As a result, the body remains inflamed longer, causing the symptoms of COVID-19 to linger.
Micro clots can also cause damage to your neurons. Depending on the size and number of the clots, they could collect to block tiny vessels in the organ, essentially leading to multiple unnoticeable strokes over time.
Other Unconventional Brain Injuries
COVID-19 is by no means the only unexpected source of brain injuries. Many other conditions and events can lead to significant damage that may not be obvious to an outside observer.
- Other Viruses: COVID-19 is not the only virus that causes inflammation. Other viruses, such as meningitis, can cause similar swelling and harm the to . Furthermore, high fevers that aren’t treated can actively kills neurons. Healthcare practitioners who don’t treat someone with a high fever or dangerous virus correctly can cause damage through their negligence.
- Anaphylactic Shock: Caused by a severe allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock is a fast and potentially fatal reaction to an allergen. The primary symptom is an immediate and life-threatening swelling of the airways, potentially preventing the patient from breathing. This can cause permanent brain damage in as little as two minutes. A restaurant that neglects to appropriately respond to someone’s allergy-based request could cause them potentially fatal injuries.
- Seizures: As with anaphylactic shock, seizures can prevent someone from breathing, either through tightening of the airways or by choking on something. Furthermore, seizures can damage the brain directly if the victim hits their head during the incident. People with seizure disorders can receive permanent damage from both medical malpractice and standard negligence.
- Drug Overdoses: Many medications that affect the brain can damage it in high quantities. Medical practitioners who prescribe or administer excessively high doses of these drugs may be liable for any damage they cause.
- Pollutant Exposure: Many pollutants have the unintended consequence of brain damage. Lead and carbon monoxide are just two substances that can harm neurons if someone is exposed to them. Businesses that don’t protect their employees from these pollutants may be responsible for the harm they suffer.
Recovering from Unconventional Brain Injuries
These kinds of injuries are unpredictable. Recovery can continue for as long as two years, and damage that remains past that point is likely permanent. It’s essential to get medical treatment as soon as you suspect you’ve experienced damage to maximize your likelihood of full recovery.
- Get plenty of rest. Your mind needs time to recover. After any type of brain injury, it’s important to rest and take time away from work and other responsibilities to encourage healing. Your doctor may recommend bed rest or a specific amount of time spent at home without the stress of work or school.
- Work with a supportive team. Brain damage can significantly affect your physical abilities, emotions, and personality. You’ll need a trained medical team to help you recover, as well as a circle of friends and loved ones who can support you.
- Prepare for a different life. You may never be the same person you were before your injury. Your abilities and personality may change for good. Consider joining brain injury support groups as you recover to build a community of people who understand what you’re going through.
Consider Getting Help
The worst part of these kinds of injuries is that they make it harder for you to take the actions you need to recover. Whether you’ve suffered brain damage from COVID-19, seizures, anaphylaxis, or a medically-administered overdose, you deserve to get better. The best way to accomplish that is to get experienced help.
A good attorney might be the help you need. Whether your injury was caused by a negligent healthcare professional, workplace, or restaurant, a catastrophic injury lawyer can support you as you fight for the damages you need to get back to normal. Get in touch today to learn how the team at the Law Offices of Michael Oran, APC, can help you recover.