Telemedicine is one of the most powerful tools developed in the healthcare sector, owing to its use in continuing clinic-to-in-home care and allowing patients with life-altering neurological disorders to communicate with specialists irrespective of disability, geographic, and life-related obstacles. Teleneurology can be simply defined as a specialized episode of neurological care – including diagnosis, treatment, evaluation, and monitoring – performed virtually and generally at a distance through computers, tablets, smartphones, telephones, or the internet.
The last decade has been a witness to the immense expansion of teleneurology’s scope, as research and access to clinical care have expanded to not only acute disorders but also complex chronic neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, headaches, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and several others. Research in the case of multiple sclerosis is underway.
Multiple sclerosis diagnosis is as complicated as its treatment; thus, teleneurology facilitates medical professionals by offering alternative data collection and evaluation pathways. This article delves into the use of teleneurology for multiple sclerosis treatment and how it effectively manages this neurological condition.
Let’s get started!
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a severe neurological disorder that affects the spinal cord and the brain, resulting in various potential complications, such as problems with sensation, balance, vision, or arms and leg movements.
This lifelong condition may sometimes cause severe disability, but it can also be present in acute form. In most cases, multiple sclerosis is treatable. The condition is typically diagnosed in individuals between 20 and 40 but may also develop at ages below or above. Women are two to three times more affected by this disorder than men.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common neurological disorders affecting younger adults. The symptoms may vary from one individual to the other and can affect any body part, but generally include the following:
- Difficulty walking
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Vision complications, such as blurred vision
- Impeded thinking, planning, and learning ability
- Inability to control the bladder
- Spasms and muscle stiffness
- Tingling or numbness in different parts of the body
Depending upon the stage and kind of multiple sclerosis, such symptoms can get better or worsen over time.
Is Teleneurology Effective for Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis and Treatment?
Although investigation in the domain of teleneurology’s effectiveness for multiple sclerosis treatment and diagnosis is limited, pilot studies have offered promising results. A survey conducted by contrasting medical visit-associated features between 50 telemedicine-enabled visits and 100 in-person clinic visits showed that the teleneurology visits were generally shorter for follow-ups and more focused on particular patient concerns.
Similarly, virtual visits conducted in workplaces or homes using technological devices such as tablets, computers, and smartphones showed a higher emphasis on and adherence to disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for multiple sclerosis. An enhancement in DMT monitoring, adherence, and outcomes was also visible during the use of telehealth home monitoring and motivational interviewing. Therefore, the study concluded that teleneurology improved adherence to multiple sclerosis treatment in more than 20 people who remotely undertook direct current stimulation (tDCS) to enhance mood more than in-person clinical treatments.
Functional Improvements in Multiple Sclerosis due to Teleneurology
Primary research on teleneurology focuses on enhancing functional domains such as fatigue, mood, physical activity, and overall quality of life. Studies have shown considerable improvement in such functional conditions in patients who use teleneurology, partly because of the additional and continuous medical attention.
Physical Activity Improvements due to Teleneurology
Physical activity in people with multiple sclerosis is already difficult and endeavoring to increase it is an even more arduous process. However, teleneurology has been prompting an increase in physical activity of people with multiple sclerosis by implementing a social-cognitive-theory-based behavioral intervention administered through the internet. This intervention can be increased gradually through video coaching to support physical activity and elevate adherence over time.
A study shows that using such techniques improved physical activity rates in people with multiple sclerosis after a 12-week trial period for a three-month follow-up period. People under study with multiple sclerosis reported several mood improvements, such as less fatigue, elevated mood, improved balance and coordination, and increased physical activity.
Telemedicine is underway to become more and more common in specialized healthcare provision to patients with multiple sclerosis. Research conducted to date corroborates the notion that teleneurology is a suitable medical care form for patients and clinicians as a continuum of clinic-to-in-home healthcare and holds the potential to reduce barriers to healthcare access. In most cases, the televideo neurological examination is comparable to its in-clinic counterpart. Several promising research studies in rehabilitation have also concluded that teleneurology technologies are suitable and feasible for monitoring patients in their homes.
These telerehabilitation interventions are also crucial to improve both physical activity and cerebral function, such as cognition, mood, and fatigue. Teleneurology for multiple sclerosis is expected to continue expanding and yield better clinical outcomes relative to in-clinic visits regarding disease stabilization, relapse prevention, and medication safety.
American board-certified and fellowship-trained neurological experts at NeuroX offer specialized and advanced teleneurology services for various neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, headaches, stroke, and several others. Head over to NeuroX to book your appointment right now!