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Seizure ; 83: 89-97, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-867108

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Traditional neuropsychological testing carries elevated COVID-19 risk for both examinee and examiner. Here we describe how the pilot study of the Australian Epilepsy Project (AEP) has transitioned to tele-neuropsychology (teleNP), enabling continued safe operations during the pandemic. METHODS: The AEP includes adults (age 18-60) with a first unprovoked seizure, new diagnosis of epilepsy or drug resistant focal epilepsy. Shortly after launching the study, COVID-related restrictions necessitated adaptation to teleNP, including delivery of verbal tasks via videoconference; visual stimulus delivery via document camera; use of web-hosted, computerised assessment; substitution of oral versions for written tests; online delivery of questionnaires; and discontinuation of telehealth incompatible tasks. RESULTS: To date, we have completed 24 teleNP assessments: 18 remotely (participant in own home) and six on-site (participant using equipment at research facility). Five face-to-face assessments were conducted prior to the transition to teleNP. Eight of 408 tests administered via teleNP (1.9 %) have been invalidated, for a variety of reasons (technical, procedural, environmental). Data confirm typical patterns of epilepsy-related deficits (p < .05) affecting processing speed, executive function, language and memory. Questionnaire responses indicate elevated rates of patients at high risk of mood (34 %) and anxiety disorder (38 %). CONCLUSION: Research teleNP assessments reveal a typical pattern of impairments in epilepsy. A range of issues must be considered when introducing teleNP, such as technical and administrative set up, test selection and delivery, and cohort suitability. TeleNP enables large-scale neuropsychological research during periods of social distancing (and beyond), and offers an opportunity to expand the reach and breadth of neuropsychological services.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Epilepsy/virology , Executive Function/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Telemedicine , Australia , COVID-19/complications , Epilepsy/complications , Humans , Neuropsychological Tests , Neuropsychology/methods , Pilot Projects , Surveys and Questionnaires , Telemedicine/methods
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