New research has identified that terminal brain damage is rare among people who have been infected with COVID-19, even if they experienced severe neurological symptoms.

Previous studies have found that individuals receiving medical care for coronavirus have presented signs of a brain injury, with blood-based biomarkers often appearing.

After being infected, people can experience neurological symptoms for months, including extreme fatigue, lethargy and cognitive decline.

However, experts have pledged that lasting brain damage is unlikely.

Renowned academic, Professor Magnus Gisslén said: “Neurological complications are common in COVID-19 and can in some patients continue several months after the acute phase.

“It is reassuring that elevated concentrations of brain-injury markers return to normal 3-6 months after the acute phase of COVID-19 indicating that no continuous brain damage is present and that there is a good chance for recovery also in patients with remaining post-acute neurologic and cognitive symptoms.”

Swedish researchers from the University Hospital in Gothenburg studied the blood of 100 people who have had COVID-19 to assess the longitudinal trajectories of plasma biomarkers.

Participants were split into one of three groups, with each group representing a different severity level of COVID-19.

Three months after, blood tests revealed that individuals who were admitted to an intensive care unit had more amounts of neurofilament light chain protein and glial fibrillary acidic protein, both sings of neurological injuries.

However, these biomarkers reverted back to normal by the follow-up examination.

According to the findings, half of the participants across all three groups experienced symptoms of brain injury, including fatigue, brain confusion or cognitive decline.

The study’s main scientist, Dr Nelly Kanberg said: “This is of high importance from a scientific and public health point of view in search for better care of this patient group.”

The full research analysis is now available in the biomedical journal ‘EBioMedicine’.

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