June 5, 2020
Natalia Ojeda del Pozo, from Spain reported that research with patients has been stopped for eight consecutive weeks, but they are now in the process of being able to start with face to face individual assessments, so already planning how to proceed and catch up. Interventions were cancelled and in terms of group interventions, they will be able to go back to them from June 8th on, as long as they can maintain 2 metres distance between each other and use masks and gels, disinfection of rooms, including chairs and door handles etc. Each patient is encouraged to bring their own pen/pencil.
Natalia is also focussing on data analysis and papers during the eight week lockdown period, and now in the process of getting back to activity. However, they have also been alerted that it is not possible to rule out the possibility of new restrictions in the future depending on the evolution of infections and if new outbreaks are identified. Nevertheless, at the end of last week they started phoning patients to ask them if they would be willing to maintain their participation. In the case of cognitive remediation trials they are thinking of implementing some booster sessions to compensate for the interrupted weeks. However, many participants have already communicated that they prefer not to as people are still scared and very cautious about going out, in particular in relation to going to health sites.
April 8, 2020
Dr. Natalia Ojeda Del Pozo is in the Basque region of Spain. At the time of writing Spain has 80,000 people infected and has suffered 6,500 deaths, in a country of 45 million people, and of course that will only increase tomorrow. Spain has a good quality publically funded health system, but the intensive care units are overwhelmed and lacking in critical personal protective equipment (PPE). Neuropsychological assessment and treatment in-person are not happening, and the priority has shifted to online psychological therapy. Natalia reported that the situation is frightening and stressful, but a positive part of the situation is that people are developing a greater sense of community, and networking more. As in many other countries, health professionals are honored at 8pm everyday by people applauding from their windows for two to three minutes. People are also getting together and organizing to support each other, and being very creative in finding solutions to problems. Natalia mentioned a service being provided by the Professional Association of Psychology in Bizkaia. Up to 86 clinical psychologists have been recruited. These are mainly psychologists whose only income comes from private practice. They are providing online support to anyone who contacts the association. The service is free of charge to users and the professionals are being paid by the Society which means that as well as a service to the community it is also a way to help professionals to guarantee a minimum income during this crisis period.
The Neuropsychological Society in Madrid has created this webpage to provide advice to patients and families and some companies are offering their online cognitive rehabilitation services free of charge, so patients can access from home. Patient associations are organising to offer recommendations, relevant manuals and more informal tips. For example, children diagnosed with Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders are wearing a big blue ribbon or blue T shirt so that they can go outside their houses and walk for a while to relieve distress and help the children deal with the isolation.