Uncovering the neurological connections to COVID-19

More than seven months into the battle against COVID-19, scientists have gained a better understanding of the disease and its symptoms while finding new and improved ways to test and treat patients. But countless mysteries remain. Why does COVID-19 cause some patients to lose their sense of smell and taste? What are the psychiatric and neurological complications now associated with COVID-19 infections—and can these issues be prevented?

Microscopic image of a neuron

Currently, there are a variety of research efforts across Penn to uncover the neurological implications of the disease, including stroke, neuroinflammation, and loss of smell. 

Even though initial reports suggested a significant risk of stroke in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, research led by Brett Cucchiara, an associate professor of neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine, published in Stroke, showed a low risk.

“Yes, there is a connection between stroke and COVID-19, but we don’t want people to overly worry about this,” Cucchiara says. “It’s important to understand that the risk of stroke for those suffering from COVID-19 is fairly low—it’s impacting about two percent of patients hospitalized for the virus. And for every patient hospitalized, there are maybe 10 or 20 who aren’t—perhaps even more considering those who are asymptomatic.” That small percentage still merits continued investigation, Cucchiara added. He and his team are continuing to look at the linkage between stroke and COVID-19 to learn more about the virus and improve treatment for patients. 

Read more at Penn Medicine News.