Barriers leading to increased disability in neurologically challenged populations during COVID-19 pandemic: a scoping review

Jennifer D’souza, Arunima Biswas, Pooja Gada, Jaydip Mangroliya, Manikandan Natarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The objective of this scoping review was to get an overview of barriers emerging across the globe from the pandemic that are likely to increase the level of pre-existing disability status of neurologically challenged populations. Methods: Database searches (PubMed/MEDLINE, CINAHL, ProQuest, Ovid, Scopus, and Web of Science) updated to December 2020 were conducted. Articles that identified challenges or barriers to neuro-rehabilitation, impact on disability status and health care services were included. Full-text articles limited to the English language with no restrictions on study design were included. Data was synthesized based on recurrent themes that were identified. Results: Thirty-seven studies were included in this review. Neurological populations considered: stroke, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, parkinson’s disease, autism, developmental disabilities, and those who required neurosurgical care. Barriers were grouped into categories as increased disease risk and complications, delayed or restricted access to neuro-rehabilitation, limited hospital access, telerehabilitation limitations, and shutdown of special centers of aid. Conclusions: COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to barriers that affect almost every aspect of healthcare and rehabilitation in neurologically challenged populations prompting an increase in their disability level. This can assist policymakers in designing mitigation strategies to minimize the detrimental effects on this vulnerable population.Implications for rehabilitation Pandemic has led to the worsening of existing motor and non-motor symptoms, which need to be monitored, assessed and managed medically, and through rehabilitation in neurologically challenged populations. Notable decline of cognition and physical activity in neurologically challenged populations needs to be assessed and efforts to reverse these outcomes should be attempted. Rehabilitation services, hospital care and centers of aid need to be made more accessible for neurologically challenged populations with COVID-19 precautionary measures. Telemedicine and telerehabilitation need to be upgraded to enhance further face to face like interactions and for tracking of progressive disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7693-7706
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation


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