Front Neurol. 2022 Jun 16;13:808433. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.808433. eCollection 2022.
INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic and its countermeasures have created changes in both life and healthcare. With the prioritization of COVID-19-related management, the risks and experiences of patients suffering from rare conditions, such as dystonia, during the pandemic remain understudied.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using a framework analysis of a nationwide qualitative online survey, we sought to explore the perspectives of patients with dystonia on their clinical assistance and possible unmet needs during the first pandemic wave. An online survey consisting of 37 items (such as demographic characteristics, dystonia-related features, neurological service provision, therapeutic relationship with the neurologist, perceptions related to virus infection, perceptions about healthcare-related needs, work-related questions, requesting information, and seeking support during the pandemic) was carried out using both close and open-ended questions.
RESULTS: Responses from 62 participants were collected, with most of them from the red zones in Italy, where they were confined indoors. Social isolation was a relevant stressor. Motor and non-motor symptoms increased with detrimental consequences for patients’ job and daily functionality. Outpatient clinics and rehabilitation sessions were temporarily shut down, and even telephone/mail support was sparse. Despite efforts, patients felt alone in dealing with dystonia.
CONCLUSION: The first wave of the pandemic and its related restrictions had detrimental consequences for people living with dystonia, and their relevant needs remained unmet. These findings may contribute to implementing remedial healthcare provisions in this pandemic or in future pandemics.