Indiana University Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute Associate Director Babar Khan, M.D., M.S., has been treating patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Khan said many patients continue to suffer from mental, physical and emotional impairments after being released from the ICU, and those problems can persist for months. He shared his experience with national media, including Kaiser Health News.
He reported that older adults in the ICU with COVID-19 are suffering from delirium 70 to 80 percent of the time. Seniors are especially susceptible to delirium, which is a sudden change in brain function, when they are hospitalized for serious illnesses. Delirium in older adults is associated with an increased risk of losing independence, developing dementia and death.
Dr. Khan said given the extent of delirium and mounting evidence of neurological damage from COVID-19, he expects to see an increase in the prevalence of ICU-acquired cognitive impairment.
Even younger patients may face a long recovery after time spent in the ICU.
Dr. Khan helped develop the critical care recovery center model, dedicated to long-term recovery from intensive care. He works with patients at Eskenazi Health after they have been discharged from the ICU to help them recover from physical, emotional and mental symptoms that continue to linger.
Dr. Khan and his colleagues are also conducting research to prevent, diagnose and treat delirium.
Listen to Dr. Khan discuss ICU recovery in an episode of The Problem podcast from Regenstrief.
In addition to his role at Regenstrief, Dr. Khan also serves as an associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine and a physician at Eskenazi Health.