MUSC starts new study to aid neurological effects of COVID-19

Coronavirus

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) just started a new study to help treat those experiencing neurological disorders after being infected with COVID-19, also known as NeuroCOVID.

Although cough, headache, and fever are the known symptoms doctors urge people to look out for in the COVID era, NeuroCOVID symptoms can linger for months.

Studies show there is a one-in-five chance coronavirus patients will experience NeuroCOVID. NeuroCOVID symptoms include depression, anxiety, vertigo, loss of smell, headache and extreme fatigue.

Doctors with the study are enrolling 20 willing participants that are currently experiencing neurological symptoms. Participants will be shipped a briefcase with monitoring and stimulation devices.

Inside the electronic briefcase is a tablet, a blood pressure monitor, a heart monitor, two electrodes, and a stimulator.

The stimulator will help reduce inflammation of the brain by sending electrical impulses through adhesive electrodes that attach to the side of the ear. This is a key component to recovery, according to Dr. Mark George, one of three doctors leading the study.

“We know that the virus is in the brain,” Dr. George said.

“And the brain is trying to get rid of the virus and when it does that it does a thing called inflammation. So our idea is that with this new technology [also] pioneered by Dr. Badran, we may be able to reduce the inflammation in the brain,” he explained.

Doctors can view the data from the lab while participants are active in the session at home. Participants must complete one-hour sessions, twice a day for a total of four weeks.

Each kit will be sanitized once they are mailed backed the MUSC lab.

Doctors with the study explained how the device itself has been studied and used for seven years to help treat neurological disorders, however this is the first time it’s being used in connection to post coornavirus symptoms.

Because the treatment is non-invasive there are minor side effects like skin irritation or a tingling sensation of the ear. If successful Dr. Bashar Badran, the leading nerve stimulation researcher at MUSC, hopes the kit can be used long after the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of people out there with neuropsychiatric problems and things like anxiety and depression and they are at home or in rural communities and don’t have access to hospitals,” Dr. Badran explained.

“The technology here is kind of like a skeleton key. Yes. We’re applying it for COVID, but it will persist for years to come,” he said.

The kits can be shipped anywhere in the country for those willing to participate. Dr. Badran they plan to work on the study for up to a year.

Those interested in participating should call Sarah Huffman at (843) 792-8672 or email huffmans@musc.edu.

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