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How COVID-19 Affects The Brain13:43
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Speech therapist David Romero uses software to compose words with Teodoro Leazma, who suffered COVID-19. Leazma recovered his mobility, but then realized the illness caused him to have dyslexia and other cognitive disorders. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Speech therapist David Romero uses software to compose words with Teodoro Leazma, who suffered COVID-19. Leazma recovered his mobility, but then realized the illness caused him to have dyslexia and other cognitive disorders. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Remember all those months ago when reports started to appear about coronavirus patients experiencing a loss of smell and taste?

While many people were trying to make heads or tails of whether that was even a real symptom or a coincidence, neurologists worried that this suggested the SARS-CoV-2 virus was affecting the nerves responsible for relaying information from the nose to the brain.

As NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton reports, those worries were well-founded. Many patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are discharged with symptoms associated with a brain injury. For many affected patients, brain function improves as they recover. But some are likely to face long-term disability.

Scientists are still trying to understand the many ways COVID-19 can damage the brain.

Additional Resources:

  • Read Jon's piece about how the coronavirus may cause lasting brain damage
  • Listen to Emily's piece about COVID and loss of smell

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Copyright NPR 2021.

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