Vaccines and Functional Neurological Disorder: A Complex Story

Summary: A number of videos have surfaced on popular channels showing people experiencing some adverse effects following the coronavirus vaccine. Researchers say some of the cases could be related to functional neurological disorder, a common neuropsychological condition.

Source: Mass General

Videos of people experiencing severe neurological symptoms, including convulsions and difficulty walking, purportedly after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, have surfaced on Facebook, YouTube and other social media channels. The millions of people watching these videos might conclude that the vaccine is either quite dangerous to produce such symptoms or that the people in the videos are faking their symptoms.

Both conclusions are incorrect, according to neurologist and psychiatrist David Perez, MD, MMSc, director of the Functional Neurological Disorders Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

In a JAMA Neurology Viewpoint, the authors explain that the COVID-19 vaccine may precipitate the development of functional neurological disorder (FND), a neuropsychiatric disorder with symptoms such as limb weakness, gait problems, jerky movements, tremor and facial spasms.

“The spread of these videos could fuel vaccine hesitancy by giving an overly simplistic impression of potential links between the vaccine and major neurological symptoms,” says Perez, the piece’s senior author. “Instead, these are symptoms of a real, brain-based disorder that sits at the intersection of neurology and psychiatry.”

This shows vials of covid vaccine
Some, but not all, individuals vulnerable to developing FND may have experienced adverse life events or have chronic pain or a range of other medical or psychiatric conditions. Image is in the public domain

FND is a disruption in the brain’s normal mechanisms for controlling the body and can be triggered by physical or emotional events, including head injury, a medical or surgical procedure, and vaccinations. “Some people with FND have a heightened awareness of their body and increased state of arousal and threat, which may hijack normal neural networks controlling voluntary movements,” says Perez. “FND teaches us quite a bit about the complexities of the human brain.”

An individual’s awareness of motor control may also be impaired with FND, adds first author David Dongkyung Kim, MD, clinical fellow in Behavioral Neurology-Neuropsychiatry at MGH: “The body is moving, but the individual doesn’t experience a sense of agency over their movements, such as tremors or movements of the trunk.”

Some, but not all, individuals vulnerable to developing FND may have experienced adverse life events or have chronic pain or a range of other medical or psychiatric conditions. “The biopsychosocial model involving an interplay of risk factors, triggering events, and perpetuating factors is how we currently understand FND,” says Kim. FND can, however, be treated with education, physical rehabilitation and psychotherapy.

Neurologists and other health care professionals have an obligation to explain FND to the public, say the authors. “Helping people understand FND will bring this disorder into mainstream medical conversations, and transparently addressing concerns will better allow people to make informed decisions for themselves on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” says Perez.

Perez is an assistant professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Candice Kung, MD, is a forensic psychiatry fellow at the University of Toronto.

About this neurology research news

Source: Mass General
Contact: Michael Morrison – Mass General
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Open access.
Helping the Public Understand Adverse Events Associated With COVID-19 Vaccinations: Lessons Learned From Functional Neurological Disorder” by David Dongkyung Kim et al. JAMA Neurology Viewpoint


Helping the Public Understand Adverse Events Associated With COVID-19 Vaccinations: Lessons Learned From Functional Neurological Disorder

By the end of January 2021, more than 97.3 million doses globally and 31.8 million doses in the United States have been administered of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Although important postmarketing surveillance is ongoing, it is currently highly effective and safe, with adverse effects including transient symptoms such as fever/chills, headache, fatigue, myalgia/arthralgia, lymphadenopathy, nausea, or local effects of swelling, erythema, or pain. 

With the public being vaccinated, there have recently been videos circulating on social media about major neurologic adverse events after administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. A few of these videos have been viewed millions of times by the public. Some depict individuals with continuous movements of the trunk and limbs or walking difficulties.

The spread of these videos has fueled vaccine hesitancy concerns and without effective communication by medical professionals to the public, this can lead to reduced vaccination rates and an unnecessary prolongation of the pandemic.

It must be noted that these videos may be unsubstantiated, and it is not definitively known if the COVID-19 vaccine was administered in these cases. However, it was reported in the news that at least 1 patient was told by their physician that the diagnosis was conversion disorder, also known as functional neurological disorder (FND).

Here, we provide context regarding potential associations between FND and COVID-19 vaccinations, as effective communication regarding this intersection is critically important.

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  1. The three ladies I saw interviewed who are suffering with this neurological adverse effect are experiencing much more than just the adverse effect itself. They’ve had to abandon their jobs (in healthcare), were denied worker’s comp, had their insurance claims denied and thus are up to their eyeballs in debt, have no income, cannot drive, have been shuffled from doctor to doctor and clinic to clinic and given virtually no help (since they’ve deemed it psychological), some doctors actually saying they don’t know what to do. Major news networks won’t touch their story (doesn’t fit the narrative promoting the vaccines), and they are being silenced by social media. One major tv doctor program was going to tell their stories but suddenly they were dropped and his program instead focused on promoting the vaccines. Despite the mainstream media, government, and medical world all aggressively PUSHING the “vaccine” onto our populace, these ladies’ experience shows we are not “all in this together.” With a serious adverse effect, they are very much on their own with their quality of life utterly destroyed.

  2. There is nothing in this article and/or indicated by the doctors quoted that any of these patients experiencing symptoms were examined, at all!? How and who determined that these patients were suffering from “functional neurological disorder?” From observing the videos?
    It appears that this is an attempt to suggest that these patients (if these videos are authentic) are experiencing symptoms that are unrelated to the “safe” vaccination they recently received….and it’s psychosomatic!?
    Why does this smell like a propaganda piece?

  3. I think their should be a website page just for the COVID-19 so we the people can cross talk about how we feel about all of this bullshit that’s rolling out like a red carpet for this COVID=19, they make it wellcome to join in our life a. Wonderful. thing that the government made and make’n it sound wonderful that we now have it so now we have christmas balls that we can now hang on our tree and enjoy it every year. I think the whole thing sticks

  4. As a former registered health care provider with a background in cardiac,pharmaceutical quality control and LTC I’m not buying the big pharma lies. They push new drugs through the process as the generics are not financially viable anymore. The unsuspecting public are Guinea pigs and years later find out the potential side effects of medicine they squeaked through with little testing.

  5. As I understand it:
    mRNA plays an integral role in gene expression. Altered mRNA contributes to abnormal gene expression.
    In humans, following injection of mRNA vaccines, it would take decades and 3_4 generations to exclude negative consequences. Creatures that have a high reproductive rate are substituted to evaluate mRNA vaccines.
    Publication of such research should go a long way in encouraging public confidence in these vaccines.

  6. CoV-2 vaccine hesitancy should be widespread due to the fact that long term efficacy and long term outcomes are completely unknown. In no way can pharma or anyone else claim these RNA gene therapies are safe. That data will not be known for at least 5-10 years and by then covid-19 will be greatly dispelled. Considering previous efforts to create these types of injections over the last 2 decades have failed miserably, there should be no rush to inject the world where actual proven deaths, not assumed deaths, from covid is below one tenth of one percent. No way will I ever assume pharma is telling the truth especially when they flat out refuse to take any responsibility for their pretend vaccines.

    1. There is no intersection between neurology and psychiatry because they are not different. The biopsychosocial model is nonsense. There is only the brain. We are material beings. The sooner neurology (or neuropsychiatry) replaces 19th century de-medicalized psychopsychiatry, the better. “Mental illnesses” are brain diseases. Only the material model and pharmaceutical technology has ever successfully helped anybody improve their lives through material medications. How long are we going to allow the charade of untreated brain disease go on in this country? How long are we going to allow anti-science cults like Scientology and their many anti-psychiatry newspapers and fronts, in collusion with insurance companies try to cut costs, dictate state policy and medical definitions? It’s destroying millions of lives; it is the root cause of America’s 6 million homeless population. This is neglect of historic proportions, and future generations will look at anti-empirical fraud in American medicine today as a crime comparable to the Holocaust. Irresponsible stories like this only contribute to anti-science paranoia, and unjustly demonize pharmaceutical companies that are measurably improving billions of lives ever day. Doctors, especially those working with those suffering from brain abnormalities that cause increased paranoia, should not ever post information like this when it doesn’t have a shred of scientific evidence to support it yet. Once that evidence exists, then one could reasonably suggest caution rarely. Until then, every symptom here could be explained by common transient symptoms of weakness and disorientation following vaccines, if the videos are real in the first place. Uneducated people posting and viewing YouTube videos plus only one supposed case among hundreds of millions of people isn’t science! Neurosci News should pull this story or edit it to better reflect the spirit of the source article, which itself it must be stressed was not a research paper, and probably should never have been published under these circumstances. Don’t you people realize those millions suffering from paranoia are the first to end up homeless, and most landlords are now requiring the Covid-19 vaccine, especially in cities? This is a remarkably irresponsible action by NeuroSci News. Unfortunate.

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