Management of patients with neuromuscular disorders at the time of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

Gianluca Costamagna, Elena Abati, Nereo Bresolin, Giacomo Pietro Comi, Stefania Corti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The novel Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed several challenges for neuromuscular disorder (NMD) patients. The risk of a severe course of SARS-CoV-2 infection is increased in all but the mildest forms of NMDs. High-risk conditions include reduced airway clearance due to oropharyngeal weakness and risk of worsening with fever, fasting or infection Isolation requirements may have an impact on treatment regimens administered in hospital settings, such as nusinersen, glucosidase alfa, intravenous immunoglobulin, and rituximab infusions. In addition, specific drugs for SARS-CoV2 infection under investigation impair neuromuscular function significantly; chloroquine and azithromycin are not recommended in myasthenia gravis without available ventilatory support and prolonged prone positioning may influence options for treatment. Other therapeutics may affect specific NMDs (metabolic, mitochondrial, myotonic diseases) and experimental approaches for Coronavirus disease 2019 may be offered “compassionately” only after consulting the patient’s NMD specialist. In parallel, the reorganization of hospital and outpatient services may change the management of non-infected NMD patients and their caregivers, favouring at-distance approaches. However, the literature on the validation of telehealth in this subgroup of patients is scant. Thus, as the first wave of the pandemic is progressing, clinicians and researchers should address these crucial open issues to ensure adequate caring for NMD patients. This manuscript summarizes available evidence so far and provides guidance for both general neurologists and NMD specialists dealing with NMD patients in the time of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1580-1591
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Disease-modifying therapies
  • Neuromuscular disorder centres
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Pandemic
  • Telemedicine
  • Vaccine
  • Ventilatory support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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