NASHVILLE, Tennessee—Telehealth can benefit patients with neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) who cannot travel to specialized centers, even though the approach has its limitations, experts said during a session on telehealth at the 2022 Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinical & Scientific Conference.

During the session chaired by Dustin Nowacek, MD, healthcare professionals from Michigan Medicine—including certified prosthetist/orthotist Alicia Baxter, MS, doctor of osteopathic medicine Mary Schmidt, DO, and neurologist Gary Gallagher, MD—discussed their own experiences with telehealth, including its benefits and the limitations of virtual care.

Baxter introduced common types of orthoses for patients with neuromuscular diseases such as foot orthoses, ankle-foot orthoses, and knee-ankle-foot orthoses as well as orthosis for the management of scoliosis and discussed the role of the orthotist in telemedicine. “It’s important to define what device would be most appropriate for the patients,” she said. 


Continue Reading

Read more about the treatment of DMD

According to the speakers, the logistics of video visits can make a big difference in the success of virtual care. It is very important to use a good background that is not cluttered and is well-lit.

“There should not be a doorway behind you,” Dr. Schmidt said. “This gives the feeling that someone could be walking in and interfering with the session and may mean patients feel like there is a lack of confidentiality.” She also stressed the importance of introducing everyone in the video visit.

The session also included tips on how to assess patients’ ability to move their limbs as well as their ability to walk, if applicable, and the role of the caregiver in doing so to obtain the best results.

Success stories illustrated how telehealth can allow patients who live far away from a center and/or are unable to travel to benefit from the expertise of physiotherapists and orthotists as well as other healthcare professionals. 

Reference

Gallagher G, Baxter A, Schmidt M. Telehealth learnings in clinical care and research: Learnings from the pandemic. Oral presentation at: 2022 Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinical & Scientific Conference; March 15, 2022; Nashville, TN.