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USC researchers seek test subjects to study COVID-19's effect on the brain

University of South Carolina team seeks people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been recovered for 28 days, and are at least 20 years old.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The coronavirus has affected thousands physically, mentally and emotionally. And because of that, a local study is being conducted to learn more about the effects COVID-19 has on the brain.

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"There’s a lot of people who get COVID-19 who are not the same -- and will not be the same -- maybe, ever again for the rest of their lives," Dr. Julius Fridriksson said.

Fridriksson, a professor at the University of South Carolina, is conducting a study along with Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group Division of Infectious Diseases to try and learn more about the effects COVID-19 has on the brain.

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"We are seeing a wide range of symptoms, and some of those symptoms can be very severe, even in very young people. Things like memory loss, not being able to come up with the right words anymore, things that used to be pretty simple -- like reading an excel spreadsheet -- now is a major difficulty. Some people haven’t been able to go back to work because of these long-term effects of COVID-19," Fridriksson said.

Fridriksson said part of the brain rewiring can be losing your sense of smell -- a common symptom of coronavirus in a patient.

"The brain tries to recover, so when it tries to do that, it’s not like you have a formula for how that should happen and therefore you could get changes in symptoms as your body and brain tries to deal with this new condition," Fridriksson said.

For the study, Fridriksson is looking for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been recovered for 28 days, are at least 20-years-old and eligible for an MRI.

"What is going to be so crucial is to understand the individual differences and we cannot understand this unless we get participants for the research," Fridriksson said.

The study includes getting an MRI so researchers can get a closer look at what COVID-19 does to the brain. Participants can also expect 60-90 minutes of surveys that can be completed online at home, 60-90 minutes of virtual testing of memory, attention, and language that play like games and story-telling scenarios, and one-hour MRI scan at Prisma Health Heart Hospital

Potential test participants must have access to a computer with internet and audio/webcam capabilities to participate.

If you are interested or to see if you are eligible you can visit this website: abc.sc.edu or send an email to: abcstudy@mailbox.sc.edu or you can also call the study team at: 803-576-8420.

For your time and effort, you can receive compensation for completion of all sessions. Click here, for more details on the study.