NeurologyLive conducted a number of interviews and conversations with leaders within the neurology community to discuss the resources and tools used to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Banding together and utilizing the resources available was a huge part of how clinicians were forced to adapt throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocacy groups played a major role throughout this time, acting as community helpers to those with neurologic disorders who may need more information about guidelines, access to clinical care, or tips on what to do in an emergency situation.
The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) created the COViMS database that was launched in April, which included FAQs, a sample Case Report Form, and COVID-19 resources, while also providing real-time data on patients with multiple sclerosis and other central nervous system demyelinating diseases who have developed COVID-19. In April, we sat down with Anne Cross, MD, professor of neurology, and Manny and Rosalyn Rosenthal–Dr. John Trotter MS Chair in neuroimmunology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, to discuss the registry, how it improves patient care, and the importance of gathering data during the pandemic. She also touched on some of the other pushes for registries that were going on at the time.
Guidance for health care providers and patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) were provided as a resource by advocacy group Cure SMA in August. The published paper explained the impact the virus has on the community, how Cure SMA can help out those with SMA financially, and a full-functioning information center which can point patients to other community resources.
Telemedicine has been heavily relied on as a resource and a tool throughout the pandemic. Noninvasive neuromodulation with transcutaneous afferent patterned stimulation (TAPS), which the FDA initially approved in April 2018, was seen as a safe and effective tool that allowed patients with essential tremor to manage their tremors from home. Its use—particularly in the age of COVID-19 when other treatments may be less accessible—served as a major benefit for this patient population.
While clinicians urged patients to utilize the resources that were available to them, they also stressed that hospitals are still the top resource. Hospitals saw dips in cases of stroke and other time-sensitive diseases due to the public’s fear of contracting the virus, despite clinicians still strongly urging those with a stroke to seek emergency medical care. Jennifer Frontera, MD, detailed the importance of seeking emergency room care despite levels of COVID-19 being higher in a hospital setting.
The resources and tools utilized throughout the year helped clinicians and patients weave the difficulties that arose with the pandemic. Click the links below to watch additional clips on the resources and tools utilized in 2020.