COVID-19 Causing Stroke – Even Amongst Youth

by | Jan 5, 2021 | Disability Law | 0 comments

COVID-19 Causing Stroke – Even Amongst Youth

by Linda Noorafkan – Employment and Disability Lawyer

Younger Canadians may think that they’re immune to COVID-19 effects. This is far from the truth.

Recently, Riley Behrens, a 23-year-old in Arizona, suffered from a stroke because of COVID-19. He was a healthy, young athlete that suddenly had a “mini-stroke”, also known as a transient ischemic attack (“TIA”), because of a COVID-19 infection.

If COVID-19 is causing strokes, even amongst young adults, what does that mean for employees that have suffered from strokes or are at high risk of strokes?

How does COVID-19 cause strokes?

It’s not clear how COVID-19 causes strokes. Some scientists have said that, once COVID-19 infiltrates the body, it can lead to blood clots that cause strokes.

COVID-19 could cause different types of strokes, such as Acute Ischemic Stroke, including severe large-vessel acute ischemic stroke,[1] and TIA.

What happens if I have a stroke?

In some cases, like a TIA, the stroke may not cause permanent damage. However, even TIA may cause long-term neurological impairments that affect work functioning. For instance, the 23-year-old from Arizona feels dizzy if he sits in front of a computer to use Zoom. Doctors aren’t sure if he will ever recover.[2]

Other strokes can cause permanent or long-term impacts that affect employment, such as:

  • Physical: leg and arm limitations, and fatigue;
  • Communication: Trouble speaking, writing, and reading; and
  • Cognition: Forgetfulness and concentration difficulties.[3]

Even celebrities suffer, or suffered, from long-term impairments after strokes, including:

  • Lisa George, an actress on Coronation Street, was left partially blind in one eye because of a stroke;[4] and
  • Larry King’s stroke left him unable to walk for a long period of time.[5]

What can employers and employees do to limit COVID-19 exposure?

If you (or someone you know) had a stroke, or are at high risk for stroke, it’s important to limit exposure to COVID-19. But, what if you can’t work from home? Here are some ways to keep you and your loved ones safe:

  • Infectious Disease Emergency Leave: You may get job protection through various leaves; and
  • Accommodations: You could ask your employer to socially distance employees and provide protective gear.

As employers, it’s vital to limit employee exposure to COVID-19, including through:

  • Work from home policies: Implement strategies that allow employees to work from home as much as possible; or
  • Social distancing policies: Integrate methods that keep employees distanced.

What happens to my job if I have a stroke and can’t work the same way I used to?

Unfortunately, your ability to work could be impacted because of a stroke. Some stroke-sufferers can never return to work. Others can return later or on modified duties.[6]

The employment and disability lawyers at Ertl Lawyers have successfully represented clients who have experienced stroke – in fighting for their long-term disability benefits and severance pay.

Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help.

This blog is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice or create a lawyer-client relationship.

[1] American Heat Association Inc., “Characteristics and Outcomes in Patients With COVID-19 and Acute Ischemic Stroke” (9 Jul 2020), online: <>.

[2] Global News, “A 23-year-old had a stroke due to coronavirus. He hopes his story is a ‘wake-up call’” (2 Dec 2020), online: <>.

[3] Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, “Returning to work”, online <>.

[4] Mirror, “Coronation Street star Lisa George left half-blind in one eye after stroke” online: <>.

[5] Us Weekly, “Larry King Reveals He Was in a Coma After Suffering a Stroke, Hopes to Be ‘Walking by Christmas’” (27 Nov 2019), online: <>.

[6] Government of Canada, “Stroke in Canada: Highlights from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System”, online: <>.

David Ertl Lawyer
About David Ertl
David Ertl, LL.B, has practiced employment and disability law for over 20 years. He is also a certified workplace investigator, former adjunct professor, and has written extensively in the areas of employment law, disability insurance, and tribunal practice and procedure.


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