AU Health COVID study looks for more participants

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AUGUSTA, GA (WJBF)-The Medical College of Georgia gets a new grant to study post-Covid syndrome… including brain fog and loss of taste or smell.

“Like all the other symptoms there are some people who get better once their infection is cleared and others who are having long term symptoms that are long lasting and some that kind of spread out over the course of a few weeks and a few months,” says Dr. Elizabeth Rutkowski, a Neurologist at the Medical College of Georgia and AU Health.

Dr. Rutkowski is among of a team of experts studying to find out how Covid-19 might impact the brain.

“So many patients are complaining of smell and taste loss, and I think at least what we know so far is that the virus seems to infect the supportive cells in the skin in the nose and that that probably secondarily leads to nerve injury,” says Dr. Rutkowski.

The study began last May following more than five hundred Georgians.  Now,  researchers are looking for up to one-thousand more participants either in person or virtually.

“We’re hoping to follow participants for five years to track what kinds of outcomes they are experiencing. A lot of people have been complaining of brain fog, headaches, and Long-term smell and taste loss,” says Dr. Rutkowski.

In fact, losing taste and smell seems to be one of the first things to go for people who have had Covid-19. Another researcher on the study, Dr. Lynette McCluskey, a Neuroscientist at Medical College of Georgia and AU Health, says many functions of the brain are connected.

“There’s a really strong link between memory and smell. This really evolved as humans who are hunters and gatherers have to remember where your food is in the wild. So, there are really strong neural connections between those regions in the brain and so when you activate one and you’re remembering what that odorant smells like that’s also helping memory, ” says Dr. McCluskey.

If you or someone you know is experiencing long Covid-19 symptoms and would like to participate in the study, you can call the AU Clinical Trials Office at (706)-446-0014 or email CONGA@AUGUSTA.EDU.

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