New study shows that COVID-19 may have impacts on patients, causing new neurological disorders

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has affected millions worldwide. There are still many unknowns surrounding this virus yet one thing is for sure, in serious cases the virus causes devastating effect on the body – and not just on the lungs.

Neurology Online Journal has published a new study showing that the COVID-19 virus could potentially be responsible for patients developing new neurological disorders. The increase in new disorders has resulted in a higher risk of in-hospital mortality and decreased likelihood of being discharged sooner. This study closely monitored 606 adult COVID-19 patients diagnosed with brain or other nerve-related medical conditions at any point of their infection. The injuries incurred ranged from temporary confusion due to low body-oxygen levels, to stroke and seizures in the majority of serious cases. 

Researchers performed the study to determine the prevalence and associated mortality of well-defined neurologic diagnoses among COVID-19 patients. They followed hospitalized SARS-Cov-2 positive patients and recorded new neurologic disorders and hospital outcomes. The study also compared COVID-19 patients whose neurologic disorders occurred before, or at the time of admission, to patients who developed neurologic disorders later during hospitalization.

COVID19 Study Findings

– Of 4,491 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 606 (13.5%) developed a new neurologic disorder in a median of 2 days from COVID-19 symptom onset.

– Out of the 606 patients studied, the most common neurological diagnoses were: toxic/metabolic encephalopathy (damage or disease that affects the brain) (6.8%), seizure (1.6%), stroke (1.9%), and hypoxic/ischemic injury (a restriction in blood supply to tissues, causing a shortage of oxygen that is needed for cellular metabolism) (1.4%). 

– Among patients with seizure, 34 of 74 (46%) had no prior history of seizure or epilepsy.

– 263 out of 606 (43%)  developed neurologic and traditional COVID-19 symptoms at approximately the same time.

– 326 (54%) developed neurological symptoms after traditional COVID-19 symptoms in a median of 12 days (IQR 5-22). 

– Patients who were diagnosed with neurologic disorders after admission were significantly older, and were more severely ill based on Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores, intubation rates, and acute renal failure rates. 

– Neurologic disorders were detected in 13.5% of COVID-19 patients and were associated with increased risk of in-hospital mortality and decreased likelihood of discharge home.

Despite these findings, further research will be required to determine whether the associated neurological manifestations involve a direct viral infection of brain tissue by SARS-CoV-2.

“The results of our study showed no signs that the coronavirus directly attacks the nervous system,” says study lead investigator Jennifer Frontera, MD. “The neurological complications seen in COVID-19 are predominately the secondary effects of being severely ill and suffering from low oxygen levels in the body for prolonged periods,”

Jennifer Frontera, a professor in the Department of Neurology at NYU Langone Health.

COVID19 Impact on ICP Monitoring Devices

The Intracranial Pressure (ICP) of patients is monitored through ICP monitoring devices to reveal signs of encephalopathy, thus making this a market that may see an increase in sales due to the pandemic. ICP is monitored to ensure the maintenance of an ideal pressure level. Elevated ICP carries a high mortality rate, therefore, the rapid recognition of elevated ICP is vital to initiate therapies to lower the pressure. With COVID-19 patients now showing increased signs of toxic/metabolic encephalopathy, doctors must be monitoring their ICP levels to commence treatment as soon as possible.

COVID19 Impact on Thrombectomy Devices

In addition to the possible increase within ICP monitoring devices, there may also be an increase in sales within the thrombectomy devices market. Treating ischemic strokes with thrombectomy devices is a relatively quick procedure, but most Americans are not able to get to a hospital with stroke treatment capabilities in time. Neurological thrombectomy devices are only indicated for use up to eight hours after symptoms onset. 

In 2019, the Thrombus Management market saw over 59,000 procedures performed, which are expected to experience a double-digit growth in the next 6 years. This growth is attributed to the fact that thrombectomy devices are being more frequently adopted as the standard of care for acute ischemic stroke patients. Before the pandemic, the thrombus management market was expected to reach $1 billion by 2026.

Neurological Devices Market Forecast

Through this study, they determined that neurologic disorders were found in 13.5% of COVID-19 patients and were associated with increased risk of in-hospital mortality and decreased likelihood of discharge home. Many observed that neurologic disorders may be a consequence of severe systemic illness. These results indicate that COVID19 may lead to an increase in sales within the neurology market, specifically for ICP monitoring and thrombectomy devices.

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In 2019, the overall U.S. neurological device market was valued at $4.8 billion. Before the pandemic, the continually aging demographic, neurological procedural growth, and extensive technological advancements attributed to the growth of this market. However, the impact of COVID-19 could be the new driver within this market with the potential to increase procedural numbers and drive unit sales within the particular device markets. 

Via: Neurology.org