COVID-19 Ventilator Patients Can Have Permanent Nerve Damage – Here’s Why - SciTechDaily
Sep 12, 2020 1 min, 20 secs

Severely ill COVID-19 patients on ventilators are placed in a prone (face down) position because it’s easier for them to breathe and reduces mortality.

But that life-saving position can also cause permanent nerve damage in these vulnerable patients, reports a newly accepted study from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Other non-COVID-19 patients on ventilators in this position rarely experience any nerve damage.

“This is a much higher percentage of patients with nerve damage than we’ve ever seen in any other critically ill population.

Based on this study and another that came out after Franz’s, 12% to 15% percent of the most severely ill COVID-19 patients have permanent nerve damage.

The injury has been missed because people who have been critically ill are expected to wake up with some generalized, symmetric weakness because they have been bedridden, Franz said.

As a result of the findings, physicians are modifying the prone position protocol for COVID-19 patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in order to prevent nerve damage.

“We noticed patients are getting a lot of pressure at the elbow or at the neck, so we’ve made some adjustments to the way we position the joints as well as putting extra padding under the elbow and the knee where there is the most pressure,” Franz said.

Some patients had as many as four distinct nerve injury sites.

“This could mean permanent difficulties with walking or critical hand functions like writing or operating a computer or cell phone,” Franz said.

September 9, 2020

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