TBI & COVID: A Lethal Combination

Posted on September 21, 2021

The Brain Injury Association of America has encouraged all individuals with brain injury to get vaccinated for COVID. This is in light of evidence from the American Academy of Neurology that anyone with neurologic illness such as brain injury is especially vulnerable to diseases such as influenza and COVID. 

How does the COVID virus affect the body? 

The neurologic complications of COVID cause headaches, confusion, delirium, dizziness, and loss of taste and smell. It can progress to problems with the micro embolic phenomenon and having strokes and movement disorders. Motor and sensory deficits, problems with numbness, tingling, ataxia, and seizures are other complications. 

When the virus attacks the lungs, lack of oxygen causes hypoxia, and hypoxic encephalopathy can occur if oxygen levels drop below 88%. The brain requires oxygen and glucose to function efficiently. COVID patients may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea that can lead to difficulty in attention and concentration, short-term memory, and speed of processing information. These are some problems that TBI victims face, which shows that this is a weak link in the chain for individuals who have sustained TBI. 

Another complication is related to immune dysfunction – an outpouring of cytokines causing heightened cardiovascular and cerebrovascular system dysfunction. This can cause myocardial infarction and changes in the blood-brain barrier permeability. 

People without preexisting brain injury face less risk from COVID than TBI victims. 

Brain injury is widely considered a chronic disease, and therefore the risk of negative complications from COVID-19 increases. This is because when an individual gets infected with the SARS CoV-2 virus, the virus finds the 'weakest link' in the body and attacks it. Hence people with long-standing medical issues are at the highest risk of infection, complications, and even death. 

TBI elicits an inflammatory process in the brain, causing individuals to experience chronic issues, placing them at a much greater risk of suffering from adverse effects from the COVID-19 virus. Persistent brain injury symptoms are the result of this neuroinflammation, and a COVID-19 infection can accelerate the inflammatory process.  

A current study published in Lancet Psychiatry found that one in three people infected with the COVID-19 virus has prolonged neurological or mental health symptoms. Also, there is growing evidence that COVID can directly affect the brain, causing cognitive and attention deficits, anosmia, psychosis, depression, new-onset anxiety, seizures, and even suicidal behavior.

The adverse side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh its benefits:

The COVID-19 vaccine aims to protect the most vulnerable individuals in society, including individuals above 70 years, expectant mothers, and those with underlying health conditions.

The vaccine's adverse effects are usually transient and related to general protective immune responses such as headache, fever, and arm soreness. There is no evidence supporting the myth that the vaccine will make TBI symptoms worse. However, a COVID infection can do just that. 

According to the CDC, you may have some side effects, which indicates that your body generates antibodies against the virus. These effects do not affect your ability to do daily activities and will disappear in a few days. 

The CDC and FDA track information through apps such as V-safe and Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Both these apps send information to CDC about any possible side effects or health problems that occur after vaccination. If additional COVID-19 vaccine doses are required, V-safe will remind you if you need one. 

In conclusion, all vaccines against the Coronavirus have been extensively tested and shown to be safe. People with TBI and other underlying health and social issues make them more susceptible to contracting the virus with a serious prognosis.