How COVID-19 Affects The Brain : Short Wave Many patients who are hospitalized for COVID-19 continue to have symptoms of brain injury after they are discharged. For many, brain function improves as they recover, but some are likely to face long-term disability. As NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton explains, research into all the ways the coronavirus affects the brain is ongoing but research shows it can affect everything from loss of smell to memory problems. Read Jon's piece here.

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How COVID-19 Affects The Brain

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How COVID-19 Affects The Brain

How COVID-19 Affects The Brain

How COVID-19 Affects The Brain

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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 hide caption

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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.

This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez, edited by Gisele Grayson and fact-checked by Ariela Zebede. Gilly Moon was the audio engineer.