Changes in physiotherapy services and use of technology for people with multiple sclerosis during the COVID-19 pandemic

Johanna Jonsdottir, Carme Santoyo-Medina, Turhan Kahraman, Alon Kalron, Kamila Rasova, Lousin Moumdjian, Susan Coote, Andrea Tacchino, Erica Grange, Tori Smedal, Ellen Christin Arntzen, Yvonne Learmonth, Ludovico Pedulla, Gillian Quinn, Daphne Kos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to reorganization or reduction of neurorehabilitation services for people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). The aim of this study was to explore the changes in the organizational framework and technology usage in physiotherapy services for PwMS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This international cross-sectional survey study was designed, developed, and disseminated by RIMS European Network for Best Practice and Research in Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation. Physiotherapists from nine countries (Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, Turkey) who provided physiotherapy services to PwMS, were invited to complete an online survey to compare physiotherapy delivery to PwMS prior to and during the pandemic period. Results: The survey was completed by 215 physiotherapists. Accessibility, the average number, length and perceived effectiveness of physiotherapy sessions provided to PwMS were significantly reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic (p=0.001). Physiotherapists increased the advice of mobile apps, recorded videos for rehabilitation and exercise websites during the pandemic (p<0.001) while the use of telerehabilitation and virtual reality technology did not change. Conclusion: There was of a reduction in the number, duration and perceived effectiveness of rehabilitation sessions for people with multiple sclerosis during the COVID-19 pandemic while use of remote technologies for physiotherapy did not change. To ensure the continuity of physiotherapy for PwMS with complex healthcare needs also during pandemics, the provision of guidelines and training in telehealth technologies in professional education becomes crucial.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104520
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Volume71
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Continuity of care
  • Physiotherapy service
  • Teleneurology
  • Telerehabilitation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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