Coronavirus, Parkinson’s and other Movement Disorders: message from Dr. Kulisevsky

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to suspend outpatient consultations until conditions change and the health authorities reauthorize travel. Of course, this should not mean an abandonment of our responsibility to care for patients and to be attentive to the doubts of family members and caregivers.

That is why I am sending you this message with a series of information and advice and the recommendation that, if you have any doubts or urgent needs, you can contact us, either by e-mail or by telephone.

First of all, some useful information to complement those already disseminated by the health authorities.

Parkinson’s disease does NOT increase the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Currently available information does NOT indicate that Parkinson’s disease, tremor, other parkinsonisms, dystonia, tics, or ataxia are a risk factor for COVID-19 infection. These diseases do NOT cause immunosuppression which could lead to increased susceptibility to infection.

The medications we prescribe to treat Parkinson’s and these other diseases do NOT cause immunosuppression or increase the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Therefore, the recommended treatment should not be discontinued or modified without a specific medical indication.

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Parkinson’s disease is NOT a risk factor, but advanced age and the presence of associated diseases are.

Most people who acquire the infection will recover without major interventions beyond general care, but it is known that a significant minority may develop severe respiratory symptoms.

Other medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and especially lung disease increase the risk of a more severe COVID-19 infection.

Therefore, it is imperative that both patients and their families take into consideration the official recommendations of the Ministry of Health regarding preventive measures and do not take unnecessary risks.

It is NOT necessary for Parkinson’s patients to take extraordinary measures beyond those recommended for the general population to defend themselves against COVID-19 infection.

It should be remembered, among others that are continuously disseminated by the authorities, the importance of staying at home and washing hands frequently, keeping a distance from other people, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth. In case of any suspicious symptoms of COVID-19 infection such as fever, fatigue, or cough, stay at home and contact health services by telephone.

Maintenance’ advice for patients during pandemic confinement

It is important to continue with the physical activity routines and other exercises that have been performed, although they should be ‘creatively’ adapted to the home. Reproducing the exercises that were done in groups or directed by physiotherapists or speech therapists, or using the Internet to assist us with audiovisual material can be of great help. The practice of relaxation and cognitive stimulation exercises should not be neglected either.

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A note of optimism

This health emergency against COVID-19 is a new situation for all of us and surpasses any other health emergency we have experienced. However, in this extraordinary situation in which we have been forced to limit mobility so as not to saturate critical care in hospitals, the generous, responsible and committed response of the population to contain infections is admirable. The data suggest that the measures are proving effective and that we are getting closer and closer to controlling the spread of the pandemic. Therefore, I am confident that we will soon be able to restore normality to consultations and see each other again in person.