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Telehealth for motor neurone disease

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To the Editor: Telehealth is an expanding area with emerging evidence of use in the management of motor neurone disease (MND) and home mechanical ventilation.13 Here, we report our experience with the use of telehealth for managing MND in Queensland.

MND is a devastating disease with affected patients having an average life expectancy of 2–3 years. Progressive muscle weakness leads to the loss of speech and ability to swallow, inability to use arms and legs and, eventually, respiratory failure. Patients are usually reviewed in specialised outpatient clinics at major Australian tertiary hospitals.4 However, as the disease advances, MND patients find it difficult to attend these clinics because of advanced disability.

As in other centres in Australia, in Brisbane, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) and, separately, The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH) have multidisciplinary MND clinics that involve medical, nursing and allied health staff. Since 2008, a monthly MND telehealth clinic has been conducted (using a dedicated bandwidth, average 768 kbps) for patients across Queensland and northern New South Wales. Thirty-eight patients have been seen, an average of three times at 3–4-monthly intervals. This has meant that the patients have been followed for…