A new helpline for people with Parkinson’s disease in Luxembourg during the COVID-19 crisis

Today, ParkinsonNet Luxembourg, a network of specialized professionals (including speech therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and neurologists) has launched a telephone helpline (+352 4411 6635) to support and assist people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers with concerns they may have during the social distancing period.

The helpline can be reached from Monday to Thursday between 9 and 11 am and will be open and free to every person with Parkinson’s disease living in Luxembourg and their caregivers.

The health measures implemented by Luxembourg’s government to prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 disease pose unprecedented challenges for everyone. In particular, people who already suffer from a chronic neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease, need to find alternatives to maintain their quality of life and prevent their physical condition from deteriorating due to isolation.

“In times of social distancing, Parkinson patients may not have access to their usual medical consultation and other therapeutic appointments. This provides a potential risk as it may lead to changes in their conditions and worsening of symptoms,” explains Prof. Rejko Krüger, coordinator of ParkinsonNet Luxembourg [1]. 

Patients may therefore be affected more than usual by:

  • Difficulties in getting out of the bed
  • Increased risk of falling
  • Restricted mobility causing pain (e.g. shoulder, back)
  • Difficulties in standing up or getting dressed
  • Difficulties in swallowing pills, food, liquids or saliva
  • Difficulties to speak
  • Difficulties to plan their day and choosing meaningful activities
  • Problems with self-care and household activities.

People with Parkinson’s are recommended to continue the exercises shown during their previous therapeutic sessions at home as much as possible. Still problems may arise over time. “We try to help the patients who are affected by the consequences of not being able to see their regular therapist or doctor like before. The ultimate aim of the helpline is to guide patients in their journey to ultimately prevent worsening of symptoms,” says Mariella Graziano, physiotherapist and member of ParkinsonNet Luxembourg.

Although a teleconsultation via phone cannot completely replace a physical appointment, it can provide answers to concerns patients might have and thus prevent complications. Patients who dial in will be redirected to a specialised healthcare professional depending on their issue. All the healthcare professionals at the end of the line are members of ParkinsonNet, a network of different professionals ranging from neurologists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists to occupational therapists, which are specialised in the treatment and care of Parkinson’s disease patients.

The special COVID-19 helpline of ParkinsonNet Luxembourg for people with Parkinson’s disease is available until the end of the social distance measures.

Videos for helping patients making exercises at home are available online on the YouTube Channel “Parkinson – Recherche au Luxembourg”. The videos were made in collaboration with a physiotherapist, two speech therapists and an occupational therapist and contain many useful tips to help patients manage the different aspects of the disease.

[1] Rick C. Helmich and Bastiaan R. Bloem (2020), The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Parkinson’s Disease: Hidden Sorrows and Emerging Opportunities, Journal of Parkinson’s Disease 10, 351–354.

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