Management of Patients with Cerebellar Ataxia During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Current Concerns and Future Implications

Mario Manto, Nicolas Dupre, Marios Hadjivassiliou, Elan D. Louis, Hiroshi Mitoma, Marco Molinari, Aasef G. Shaikh, Bing Wen Soong, Michael Strupp, Frank Van Overwalle, Jeremy D. Schmahmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The current worldwide severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought some medical systems to the brink of collapse. This crisis is also negatively impacting the care of patients with non-COVID-19 conditions, including those with cerebellar ataxia (CA). Older patients with CA and those with immune-mediated ataxias on immunosuppressive medication are potentially at high risk of developing serious complications of the infection, although it is also possible that immunosuppressive agents may provide a defense against cytokine storm. This has implications for even greater attention to preventing contracting the disease through physical distancing and/or isolation. The CA patient population is also at higher risk because of the neurological complexities of their underlying disorder and the comorbid medical illnesses that often accompany the genetic ataxias. As the disruption of social patterns and healthcare delivery in response to the crisis continues, interruption of rehabilitation, speech and language therapy, and face-to-face consultations threatens to have a negative impact on the course and well-being of CA patients. Mental and physical health is also potentially at greater risk because the prevailing uncertainty and anxiety may be superimposed upon cerebellum-specific neuropsychological challenges. We identify and review some of the short- and long-term consequences of this global pandemic for the community of ataxia patients and their families and for the clinical and academic neurologists/ataxiologists caring for these patients. This includes the recognition that telemedicine has emerged as a principle means of caregiver-patient contact and that neurological manifestations of COVID-19 including those specific to cerebellar neurobiology are increasingly recognized and will require close surveillance and monitoring. This COVID-19 Cerebellum Task Force consensus provides some guidance on how we may approach this uncertain time and consider preparing for the new realities we face in CA patient care once this acute crisis has passed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-568
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Cerebellar ataxia
  • Cerebellum
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Management of Patients with Cerebellar Ataxia During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Current Concerns and Future Implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this