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Friedreich ataxia in COVID-19 time: current impact and future possibilities

COVID-19 outbreak profoundly impacted on daily-life of patients with neurodegenerative diseases, including those with ataxia. Effects on interventional trials have been recently described. Conversely, changes in physical activity programs, which are crucial in care of ataxic patients, have not been assessed yet. Here the authors used a structured electronic survey to interview twenty patients with Friedreich ataxia (FA) on changes in physical activity during the lockdown in Italy. Regular physiotherapy was interrupted for most patients and up to 60% of them referred a substantial worsening of self-perceived global health. However, FA patients (especially those mildly affected) adopted voluntarily home-based training strategies and, in 30% of cases, used technology-based tools (TBTs) for exercise. COVID-19 crisis thus disclosed the urgent need to support ataxic patients improving systems for remote physical activity and technology-based assistance.

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