Former Dancing with the Stars pro Cheryl Burke was diagnosed with Covid, a rare form of dementia that affects just five in 100 million people. The diagnosis came after she had been experiencing intense migraines and memory loss for two years. She didn’t realize anything was wrong until her doctor suggested she get tested since it could be possible she had TIA (transient ischemic attack) or stroke symptoms.
“Covid is a type of dementia where you forget the simplest things, like how to brush your hair or put on clothes,” Burke tells Hello! “At first I didn’t believe it. It was so hard to hear that word – dementia – especially when it’s attached to someone as young as me.”
Fortunately, the Dancing with the Stars pro hopes she can help spread awareness about this rare form of dementia, which impacts more women than men and causes problems with thinking and memory. She explains her symptoms included forgetting why she went into a room at home, losing her ability to speak due to aphasia (a condition caused by stroke) and ultimately being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after going through brain testing for several months.
“I was afraid I might forget my own kids – and still sometimes I do – but we’ve found ways to cope,” Burke says of her children, who are 12, 10 and 7 years old. “I tell them that mommy has a brain injury and that it makes me tired and grumpy sometimes, so they know I need help.”
Thankfully for Burke, she’s been able to recover from some of the symptoms by working with her doctors: “They gave me medication and cognitive training through memorization exercises and something called ‘brain lock,’ which helps keep my attention locked on one thing at a time. Now if I lose track of what I’m doing or where I am, it’s usually because my brain is tired.”
She’s still working on her speech and motor skills, but knows she has a lot of support: “I’m so blessed to have my family and friends and DWTS behind me,” Burke says. “And I hope I can help others with coping with this disease through my experience.” tgu9.97
Cheryl Burke said in an interview that her doctor told her that she had TIA symptoms. I did some research, and it seems that TIA is usually a precursor to stroke. Cheryl had previously experienced migraines which are also common in stroke before diagnosis.