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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2021 June;57(3):424-33

DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.20.06478-3

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Discontinuation of botulinum neurotoxin type-A treatment during COVID-19 pandemic: an Italian survey in post stroke and traumatic brain injury patients living with spasticity

Andrea SANTAMATO 1, 2 , Salvatore FACCIORUSSO 1, Stefania SPINA 1, Nicoletta CINONE 1, Christian AVVANTAGGIATO 1, Luigi SANTORO 1, Chiara CIRITELLA 1, Nicola SMANIA 3, Alessandro PICELLI 3, Giulio GASPERINI 4, Franco MOLTENI 4, Alessio BARICICH 5, Pietro FIORE 6

1 Spasticity and Movement Disorders “ReSTaRt” Unit, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Section, Policlinico Riuniti, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy; 2 “Fondazione Turati”, Rehabilitation Center, Vieste, Foggia, Italy; 3 Department of Neurosciences, Neuromotor and Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Center, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy; 4 Villa Beretta Rehabilitation Center, Valduce Hospital, Costa Masnaga, Lecco, Italy; 5 Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit, Maggiore della Carità University Hospital, Department of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Piedmont “A. Avogadro”, Novara, Italy; 6 Neurorehabilitation Unit, Istituti Clinici Scientifici Maugeri, IRCCS, Institute of Bari, Bari, Italy



BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected health-care systems worldwide, including the outpatient spasticity care with botulinum neurotoxin toxin type A (BoNT-A).
AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of discontinuation of BoNT-A treatment on patients living with spasticity during the COVID-19 quarantine.
DESIGN: A multicentric cross-sectional study.
SETTING: Outpatients setting.
POPULATION: Patients with spasticity after stroke and traumatic brain injury treated with BoNT-A.
METHODS: A phone-based survey was conducted from March to May, 2020. Based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), an ad hoc questionnaire CORTOX (CORonavirus TOXin survey) was developed to investigate patients’ experiences following the discontinuation of their usual treatment for spasticity due to the lockdown and its implication on their health perception. It assessed patients’ condition and explored different ICF domains related to spasticity: unpleasant sensations, mobility, self-care, facilitators and psychosocial factors. The sum of those represented the CORTOX score (Max 142). The questionnaire also collected data about the impact of COVID-19 on patients’ wellbeing (mood, sleep, relationships, community life, motivation).
RESULTS: A total of 151 participants completed the survey. Most participants (72.2%) experienced a worsening in perceived spasticity, 53% got worse in independence and 70.9% had a negative impact on quality of life. The mean CORTOX score was 52.85±27.25, reflecting a perceived worsening in all ICF domains investigated. Moderate to strong correlations were found between different sub-scores of the questionnaire and severity of spasticity (P<0.001). COVID-19 psychosocial related factors were associated with loss of independence (P<0.05) but only mood was associated with worsening of spasticity (P<0.001). The lack of rehabilitation therapy was significantly associated with the worsening of independence but not with the worsening of spasticity. Finally, respondents reported that BoNT-A was useful to their condition and should not be discontinued.
CONCLUSIONS: The discontinuation of BoNT-A treatment was associated with worsening of activities and participation and perceived spasticity. COVID-19 related problems and rehabilitation showed an association with loss of independence.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: This study will provide useful information in the field of spasticity management using a patient’s centred approach, with consistent quantitative and qualitative information.


KEY WORDS: Muscle spasticity; COVID-19; Botulinum toxins; Surveys and questionnaires

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