Although there are no convincing evidences of detrimental effect of SARS-CoV2 infection on the cerebellum, the COVID-19 pandemic could impact the life quality of patients with cerebellar ataxias, but few studies have addressed this concern . To assess the motor and mental health changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemics in Cuban patients with cerebellar ataxias, three hundred four patients with cerebellar ataxias and 167 healthy controls were interviewed for risks of exposure to COVID-19, and the self-perception of the pandemics' impact on the disease progression and on the mental health . All subjects underwent the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale . The patients reported low exposition to SARS-CoV2 infection, but one case was confirmed with a mild COVID-19 . Overall, depressive and anxiety symptoms were significantly and marginally increased in patients, respectively, with higher scores in cases with severe and moderate ataxia . Positive patient's impression of psychopathological changes was associated to increased age, age at onset, and anxiety . Sixty-seven patients had a positive self-perception of ataxia progression, which was mainly influenced by higher anxiety scores but not by the adherence to at-home exercise programs . However, the practice of physical exercise was related with lower depression and anxiety scores, but this therapeutical effect was not significantly influenced by the disease stage . We demonstrated the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental and motor deficits in Cuban patients with cerebellar ataxias and the positive effect of the at-home physical exercise programs on their mental well-being . These findings give rationales to develop tele-medicine approaches to minimize these health impacts and to study the long-term effects of such sequelae and accordingly define their treatments.
Index: COVID-19, Cerebellar ataxias, Mental health, Pandemic, SARS-CoV2