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How COVID-19 Affects Brain Disease

COVID-19 and Brain Disease

Neurology experts explain COVID-19 considerations for patients with brain disease

In the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, the American Brain Foundation knew that patients, caregivers and loved ones had questions about COVID-19 and brain disease. To help provide answers, we had leading physicians and experts host Facebook Lives to share updated information on COVID-19’s impact. This initiative provided valuable information that helped inform patients’ decision-making to benefit themselves, their families and loved ones.

We collected the following videos and articles to outline important COVID-19 considerations for those with brain disease. Learn what physicians and experts had to say about risk factors, the precautions those with brain disease should take during the pandemic and more.

Stroke and COVID-19

The pandemic affected the way physicians and nurses treat stroke as well as the way at-risk patients manage their disease. James Grotta, MD, FAAN, director of Stroke Research at the Clinical Institute for Research and Innovation at Memorial Hermann Hospital, and member of the Foundation’s board of directors, hosted a Facebook Live on stroke and COVID-19. In the video, he describes stroke warning signs as well as the preventative measures those at risk should take. Dr. Grotta urged viewers to seek immediate medical care if they experience any stroke symptoms. He also explained the safety precautions in place to keep both patients and physicians safe in hospital settings. Read what he had to say about stroke treatment during COVID-19.

Epilepsy and COVID-19

In her Facebook Live on epilepsy and COVID-19, Jacqueline French, MD, FAAN, professor of neurology at NYU Langone Hospital and chief medical and innovation officer of the Epilepsy Foundation, and member of the Foundation’s board of directors, discusses considerations for those with epilepsy during the pandemic. She emphasized how the disruption to their routine can impact patients regularly taking their medication. She also offered suggestions for keeping epilepsy patients out of hospitals. For instance, it may help to obtain a prescription for a one- to three-month supply of medication. It may also be ideal to have a method for treating a breakthrough seizure at home. Learn more about Dr. French’s recommendations for treating epilepsy during COVID-19.

Parkinson’s Disease and COVID-19

Increased vulnerability to infection may put those with Parkinson’s disease at a greater risk for COVID-19-related complications; however, the disease does not increase their susceptibility to infection. Lisa Shulman, MD, FAAN, director of the University of Maryland Movement Disorders Center and a former member of the Foundation’s board of directors, explained these secondary risks as well as some protective measures patients with Parkinson’s disease can take to lessen them. She also advocated for self-care and the use of technology to limit the isolating impact of social distancing among patients. Read more about Dr. Shulman’s recommendations for those with Parkinson’s disease during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 and Developmental Disabilities

Shafali Jeste, MD, FAAN, associate professor in Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a member of the Foundation’s board of directors, hosted a Facebook Live to discuss COVID-19 risks for adults and children with developmental disabilities. In her video, she provided an overview of signs nonverbal people may display if infected with COVID-19 or another illness. She recommended healthcare providers provide guidance and advocate self-care among caregivers. She also reminded them that those with developmental disabilities may not have access to their full educational and therapeutic services at this time. Read her advice for physicians and caregivers of those with developmental disabilities during COVID-19.

Alzheimer’s Disease and COVID-19

Ron Petersen, MD, PhD, FAAN, professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, behavioral neurologist and director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and member of the Foundation’s board of directors, speaks about the impact of COVID-19 on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This ranged from risk and preventative measures, to tips for discussing the pandemic with loved ones who live with this disease. For those in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, Dr. Petersen also provides questions that families should ask staff regarding their precautions to keep their loved ones safe. Watch his video for more on Alzheimer’s Disease and COVID-19.

Multiple Sclerosis and COVID-19

Mark Keegan, MD, neurologist and the division chair of the Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology at Mayo Clinic, hosted a Facebook Live where he discussed considerations for multiple sclerosis and COVID-19. Dr. Keegan differentiates between the symptoms of an MS attack and COVID-19 infection, explains the implications of having MS during the global pandemic and answers common patient questions regarding starting or continuing disease-modifying therapy for multiple sclerosis during the pandemic. He also provides general resources for MS patients as well as resources specifically related to MS and COVID-19. Learn more about his tips for managing MS during the COVID-19 era.

Estate Planning and COVID-19

In his Facebook Live on estate planning, American Brain Foundation board member Martin Shenkman discusses important steps to take during the pandemic to protect your future—from creating wills and trusts to designating a healthcare proxy and setting up a living will. He also outlines his tips for financial planning and budgeting, in addition to organizing all estate information in one convenient location in case someone else needs to step in. For those with brain disease and without, Mr. Shenkman shows the importance of financial and estate planning during COVID-19.

If you or someone you love is affected by brain disease, it’s important to protect yourself by learning about your options and strategies that could keep you safe. For more information on neurology and COVID-19, visit the AAN COVID Resource Center.

The American Brain Foundation was founded to bring researchers and donors together in the fight against brain disease. Learn more about brain disease or help us in our mission by giving today.