Barry J. Byrne, MD, PhD: Remotely Managing Patients and Conducting Research


The chief medical advisor for the Muscular Dystrophy Association detailed his experience with the process of having to manage patients and conduct research amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Testing is really paramount to understanding whether exposure is real, and somebody should, in fact, be isolated. The unavailability of DNA-based testing and the lengthy turnaround time has made that not the most practical solution.”

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the health care field in ways that are obvious to most, such as strain on hospital systems and their resources, as well as in ways that are slightly more subtle, such as the difficulties of managing patients with neuromuscular conditions who are at high risk of mortality if infected. Additionally, the need to social distance and practice medicine in a safe way has put a strain on the ability to conduct research.

To find out exactly how these issues have challenged the physicians and health care providers who are dealing with them, NeurologyLive spoke with Barry J. Byrne, MD, PhD. Byrne, the chief medical advisor to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), and associate chair of pediatrics and director at the University of Florida Powell Center for Rare Disease Research and Therapy. He detailed his experience with the process of having to manage patients and undergo research amid the pandemic.

As well, Byrne mentioned how the help that telemedicine—and the now-relaxed regulatory guidelines around its use—has provided some relief to him and his colleagues. He also offered insight into the MDA’s resource center, which expands on the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 to offer the neuromuscular community-specific information relevant to COVID-19. That resource can be accessed at the MDA COVID-19 webpage.

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