Telemedicine is a useful tool to deliver care to patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis during COVID-19 pandemic: results from Southern Italy


Rosa Capozzo, Stefano Zoccolella, Marco Musio, Roberta Barone, Miriam, Accogli & Giancarlo Logroscino

Background: Teleneurology is an effective tool for the rapid evaluation of patients in remote locations with a well-established use in stroke and epilepsy. To date its adoption for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) care is still in a preliminary stage. We evaluated the feasibility of multidisciplinary assessment of patients with ALS, using telememedicine during the emergency determined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: All patients included in this survey had received a diagnosis of ALS according to international criteria after a complete clinical and paraclinical assessment during 2019. A structured questionnaire was used by the neurologist with the patient or the caregiver. A video interaction was offered but refused by all patients because they did not feel comfortable or did not have smartphone.

Results: Out of 31 clinical interviews 8 were completed directly with the patients and 23 with patients’ caregivers. In a successive survey, most of patients were satisfied with the neurological interview (85%), the possibility to interact directly with the clinician being at home (85%) and reduction of economic and time costs because they avoided unnecessary travel to the clinic. Most of subjects expressed their willingness to continue to be included in remote evaluation programs (90%). Notably, none of the patients presented index symptoms of Covid-19 infection.

Conclusion: Our study indicates that telemedicine is a valid tool to triage patients with ALS to increase practice outreach and efficiency. Delivery of care via telemedicine was effective and successful in people with ALS in the dramatic and sudden crisis determined by Covid-19 outbreak.

Published: 12 June 2020
Journal: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration


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