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Muscle Nerve ; 64(4): 474-482, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1321702


INTRODUCTION: /AIMS: Patients with neuromuscular disorders (NMDs), including many elderly, immunosuppressed, and disabled individuals, may have been particularly affected during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Lombardy, a COVID-19 high-incidence area between February and May 2020. We aimed to evaluate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the quality of life (QoL) and perceived disease burden of this group of patients. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional phone-based survey study between June 1 and June 14, 2020, on a sample of 240 NMD patients followed at our clinic in Milan, Italy. We asked about perceived NMD burden and QoL before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We collected responses on access to outpatient care and ancillary services. We investigated the presence of symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 infection and confirmed cases. RESULTS: We collected 205 responses: 53 patients (25.9%) reported a subjective worsening of the underlying NMD. QoL measures showed a significant worsening between pre and pandemic time frames (odds ratio, 2.14 95%; confidence interval, 1.82-2.51). Outpatient visits were postponed in more than half of cases (57.1%), with 104 patients (50.7%) experiencing a cancellation of scheduled diagnostic tests. 79 patients (38.5%) reported at least one symptom attributable to COVID-19 infection. Among the 10 patients tested with nasopharyngeal swabs, 6 tested positive and 3 died from respiratory failure, including 2 patients on corticosteroid/ immunosuppressive therapy. DISCUSSION: The COVID-19 pandemic affected QoL and limited access to outpatient care and ancillary services of NMD patients in Lombardy between February and May 2020.

COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/psychology , Neuromuscular Diseases/epidemiology , Neuromuscular Diseases/psychology , Quality of Life/psychology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/diagnosis , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Italy/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Neuromuscular Diseases/diagnosis , Surveys and Questionnaires
J Neurol ; 268(5): 1580-1591, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-716292


The novel Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed several challenges for neuromuscular disorder (NMD) patients. The risk of a severe course of SARS-CoV-2 infection is increased in all but the mildest forms of NMDs. High-risk conditions include reduced airway clearance due to oropharyngeal weakness and risk of worsening with fever, fasting or infection Isolation requirements may have an impact on treatment regimens administered in hospital settings, such as nusinersen, glucosidase alfa, intravenous immunoglobulin, and rituximab infusions. In addition, specific drugs for SARS-CoV2 infection under investigation impair neuromuscular function significantly; chloroquine and azithromycin are not recommended in myasthenia gravis without available ventilatory support and prolonged prone positioning may influence options for treatment. Other therapeutics may affect specific NMDs (metabolic, mitochondrial, myotonic diseases) and experimental approaches for Coronavirus disease 2019 may be offered "compassionately" only after consulting the patient's NMD specialist. In parallel, the reorganization of hospital and outpatient services may change the management of non-infected NMD patients and their caregivers, favouring at-distance approaches. However, the literature on the validation of telehealth in this subgroup of patients is scant. Thus, as the first wave of the pandemic is progressing, clinicians and researchers should address these crucial open issues to ensure adequate caring for NMD patients. This manuscript summarizes available evidence so far and provides guidance for both general neurologists and NMD specialists dealing with NMD patients in the time of COVID-19.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Neuromuscular Diseases/therapy , Pandemics , Telemedicine , Humans , Neuromuscular Diseases/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects