Jefferson University Hospitals

Vickie & Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience

Coronavirus Research

COVID-19 Associated CNS Demyelinating Diseases


Jefferson Health’s Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience is making significant advances in the care of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We appreciate the validation of our efforts from U.S. News & World Report, which has once again ranked Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals among the nation’s best hospitals in 2020 for neurology and neurosurgery. Our research-informed care generates excellent feedback from our patients, some of whom travel to Jefferson Health from around the country and world, because of our reputation for dealing with complex brain and spine conditions.

Some of our latest research developments include:

SARS-CoV-2 in Cerebrospinal Fluid of Patients With COVID-19 and Stroke

Researchers at Jefferson Health have shown that patients’ cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may lack viral particles even when they test positive for COVID-19 on a nasal swab. Whether SARS-CoV-2 is present in CSF may depend on the systemic disease severity and the degree of the virus’ nervous tissue tropism and should be examined in future studies.
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Thrombotic Neurovascular Disease in Covid-19 Patients

Jefferson Health researchers have uncovered some unusual trends in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients who are COVID-19 positive. We are seeing that younger patients with no other health risks are presenting with AIS, and resulting mechanical thrombectomy procedures are more challenging to deal with. While it is too early to establish direct causality, Jefferson’s preliminary data can be used to raise awareness in the population.
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Telemedicine for the Spine Surgeon in the Age of COVID-19

Jefferson Health has developed the first validated telemedicine neurological exam for spine surgery. This ensures continuity of care for spine patients with telemedicine accessibility to their surgeons during the pandemic and the future, thanks to a three-part system: 1) employing remote access capabilities in EMR software to document and review patient’s medical records and imaging; 2) our telemedicine platform, which establishes direct video communication with the patient, and 3) a system to maintain constant and reliable communication channels with the office staff, via conference call or bidirectional meeting software.
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Anti-coagulant and Anti-platelet Therapy in the COVID-19 Patient: a Best Practices Quality Initiative Across a Large Health System

Jefferson Health assembled a task force to provide guidance to the utilization of antithrombotic and antiplatelet therapies in patients with known or suspected COVID-19. The task force incorporated experts in Cardiology, Vascular Medicine, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Pharmacy, and Vascular Neurology. Current guidelines, consensus documents and policy documents from specialty organizations were used to formulate current health system recommendations.
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Aerosolized Particle Reduction: a Novel Cadaveric Model and a Negative Airway Pressure Respirator System to Protect Healthcare Workers From COVID-19

Jefferson Health has created a cadaveric model that utilizes smoke particles with a mass median of 0.28 microns to simulate the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Our model can reliably detect sub-micron particle escape from masks. It has allowed us to develop and test novel PPE masks that can easily be constructed from components available at any hospital.
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Meeting the Critical Need for Ventilators in Treatment of COVID-19 Patients

Researchers at Jefferson Health believe it may be possible to use a single ventilator to support up to three patients simultaneously without compromising their safety while providing adequate critical life support care. They’ve designed and built a microprocessor-controlled valve manifold having a single air input supplied from a standard ventilator, three air outlets and a digital control panel for setting the pressure supplied to each patient as well as the desired respiration rate. The device will ensure the same patient safety and therapy parameters as clinical grade ventilators, in fact, the digital manifold will deliver clinical grade ventilation therapy to three patients instead of one.
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Neurosurgery Residency Insights During COVID-19

Neurosurgery residents have a ubiquitous role in the hospital and are often first responders. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that neurosurgery residents have 24/7 access to adequate PPE. Since neurosurgeons are often near the head, it is prudent to follow the same precautions as anesthesiologists. Oftentimes, neurosurgery residents are working alongside those of general surgery to be part of a “Line Service” – placing central and arterial lines in COVID-19 patients. Critical care and acute inpatient need planning can’t be done in a vacuum – every department and clinical unit is interdependent and has to unite.
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Scoring System to Triage Patients for Spine Surgery With Limited Resources

Jefferson Health in a multi-institution collaboration is presenting the first quantitative urgency scoring system for triaging and prioritizing spine surgery cases in resource-limited settings. Our researchers believe this scoring system, although not all encompassing, has potential value as a guide for triaging spine surgical cases during the COVID-19 pandemic and post-COVID period.
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COVID-19 Among African Americans With Diabetes

This research aims to determine patients’ knowledge of COVID-19 symptoms and prevention, and to quantify the types of healthcare interactions African American patients with diabetes have had during the pandemic. It highlights some gaps in patient understanding of the virus, and thus could be used to shape future public education initiatives.
Research in progress.

Telemedicine for the Spine Surgeon in the Age of COVID-19

Jefferson Health has developed the first validated telemedicine neurological exam for spine surgery, ensuring continuity of care for spine patients with telemedicine accessibility to their surgeons during the pandemic, thanks to a three-part system: 1) employing remote access capabilities in EMR software to document and review patient’s medical records and imaging; 2) our telemedicine platform, which establishes direct video communication with the patient, and 3) a system to maintain constant and reliable communication channels with the office staff, via conference call or bidirectional meeting software.
Research in progress.