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Local researchers study post-COVID-19 syndrome, neurological disorders



AUGUSTA, Ga. – As if fighting COVID wasn’t enough of a challenge, experts at the Medical College of Georgia are finding some patients are now facing even more battles during recovery.

“There are the pulmonary complications, including fibrosis in the lungs, cardiac complications, worsening heart function for instance. Maybe some irregular heartbeats,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious disease physician at MCG. “Were also seeing other neurologic complications, including nerve damage in the feet.”

It’s called post-COVID-19 syndrome. Augusta University has been discussing launching a post-COVID-19 clinic, but the logistics are daunting given the wide range of different symptoms.

“It’s hard to schedule neurologists to be there at the same time critical care is there, cardiology is there, infectious diseases, critical care pulmonary and so forth,” MacArthur said.

Meanwhile, MCG is working on a five-year study looking into the neurological impacts of COVID-19.

“A lot of other patients are complaining of severe, debilitating, nonstop headaches since getting COVID, and even months down the line having daily headaches, as well as fatigue, brain fog,” said Dr. Elizabeth Rutkowski, a neurologist at the Medical College of Georgia.

The most common symptoms are loss of taste and smell, but others report feeling more depressed, and researchers believe the two could be linked.

“There are some studies that even mice, if you knock out their smell receptors, they tend to exhibit depressive behaviors,” Rutkowski said.

They say their main goal is to see if the ramifications of catching COVID-19 stick around much longer than the disease itself.

MCG is actively looking for participants in their neurological study. Participants must be above the age of 18, live in Georgia, and had received a positive COVID test from AU health services.