Background: despite being a terminal neurodegenerative disease, the role of palliative care is less recognised for motor neurone disease than for other life-limiting conditions. Understanding the experiences of, and need for, palliative care for patients and carers is key to configuring optimal policy and healthcare services.
Aim: To explore the experiences of, and need for, palliative care of people with motor neurone disease and their informal carers across the disease trajectory.
Design: A systematic review of qualitative research conducted using Thematic Synthesis – PROSPERO registration CRD42017075311.
Data Sources: four electronic databases were searched (MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Social Science Citation Index) using terms for motor neurone disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, palliative care, and qualitative research, from inception to November 2018. Included papers were data extracted and assessed for quality.
Results: A total of 41 papers were included, representing the experiences of 358 people with motor neurone disease and 369 caregivers. Analytical themes were developed detailing patients’ and carers’ experiences of living with motor neurone disease and of palliative care through its trajectory including response to diagnosis, maintaining control, decision-making during deterioration, engaging with professionals, planning for end-of-life care, bereavement.
Conclusion: The review identified a considerable literature exploring the care needs of people with motor neurone disease and their carers; however, descriptions of palliative care were associated with the last days of life. Across the disease trajectory, clear points were identified where palliative care input could enhance patient and carer experience of the disease, particularly at times of significant physical change.
BACKGROUND: A developing body of evidence has provided valuable insight into the experiences of caregivers of people with motor neuron disease; however, understandings of how best to support caregivers remain limited.
AIM: This study sought to understand concepts related to the motor neuron disease caregiver experience which could inform the development of supportive interventions.
DESIGN: A qualitative thematic analysis of a one-off semistructured interview with caregivers was undertaken.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Caregivers of people with motor neuron disease were recruited from a progressive neurological diseases clinic in Melbourne, Australia.
RESULTS: 15 caregivers participated. Three key themes were identified: (1) The Thief: the experience of loss and grief across varied facets of life; (2) The Labyrinth: finding ways to address ever changing challenges as the disease progressed; (3) Defying fate: being resilient and hopeful as caregivers tried to make the most of the time remaining.
CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers are in need of more guidance and support to cope with experiences of loss and to adapt to changeable care giving duties associated with disease progression. Therapeutic interventions which target these experiences of loss and change are worth investigation.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ACTRN12615000120572, pre-results.
Introduction: Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive neuromuscular disorder that can have significant and debilitating impact on the affected patient and families. Spouses are the primary carers for persons with MND in India, and the life of the person with MND and their spouse is never the same after the diagnosis.
Aim: The objective was to explore the lived experience of spouses of persons diagnosed with MND.
Methods: A qualitative exploratory study with three-point interviews was conducted with spouse caregivers of two persons diagnosed with MND who were receiving treatment from a national tertiary referral care center for neurological disorders. All the patients were diagnosed as definite MND according to the modified El Escorial criteria. With the spouses, in-depth interviews were conducted at their home, lasting on an average of 1 hour using a semi-structured interview guide (prompts). Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to derive themes from the interviews.
Results: The major themes emerged from the analysis were meaning of MND which contained the subthemes of delay in diagnosis and deterioration, psychological response across illness trajectory, relationship with the subthemes of changing roles in being acarer, marital relationship, to be seen as doing "right," and communication; adaptation with the subthemes of coping strategies and support system and life without the loved one.
Conclusion: The changes in the lives of spouses and in strategies for caring the partner with deterioration of symptoms in the illness trajectory are explained in this study. The palliative approach in the management of MND has to take into account, the experiences and needs of carers since care happens at home.
Spinal muscular atrophy type 1 (SMA-1) is a severe neurodegenerative disorder, which in the absence of curative treatment, leads to death before 1 year of age in most cases. Caring for these short-lived and severely impaired infants requires palliative management. New drugs (nusinersen) have recently been developed that may modify SMA-1 natural history and thus raise ethical concerns about the appropriate level of care for patients. The national Hospital Clinical Research Program (PHRC) called "Assessment of clinical practices of palliative care in children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1 (SMA-1)" was a multicenter prospective study conducted in France between 2012 and 2016 to report palliative practices in SMA-1 in real life through prospective caregivers' reports about their infants' management. Thirty-nine patients were included in the prospective PHRC (17 centers). We also studied retrospective data regarding management of 43 other SMA-1 patients (18 centers) over the same period, including seven treated with nusinersen, in comparison with historical data from 222 patients previously published over two periods of 10 years (1989-2009). In the latest period studied, median age at diagnosis was 3 months [0.6-10.4]. Seventy-seven patients died at a median 6 months of age[1-27]: 32% at home and 8% in an intensive care unit. Eighty-five percent of patients received enteral nutrition, some through a gastrostomy (6%). Sixteen percent had a non-invasive ventilation (NIV). Seventy-seven percent received sedative treatment at the time of death. Over time, palliative management occurred more frequently at home with increased levels of technical supportive care (enteral nutrition, oxygenotherapy, and analgesic and sedative treatments). No statistical difference was found between the prospective and retrospective patients for the last period. However, significant differences were found between patients treated with nusinersen vs. those untreated. Our data confirm that palliative care is essential in management of SMA-1 patients and that parents are extensively involved in everyday patient care. Our data suggest that nusinersen treatment was accompanied by significantly more invasive supportive care, indicating that a re-examination of standard clinical practices should explicitly consider what treatment pathways are in infants' and caregivers' best interest. This study was registered on clinicaltrials.gov under the reference NCT01862042 (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT01862042?cond=SMA1&rank=8).
Gabriel García Márquez opens Chronicle of a Death Foretold with a brutal finality: a man is murdered in the doorway of his home. Hundreds of pages later, the reader has some insight into why the death happened, but the event itself is never in doubt.
Like the famous novel, the mortality follow-back study is a subset of case design, constructed in reverse time: collect a set of patients who have some outcome—in this case, death—under some defined set of circumstances or with some defined condition, and look back to understand the days, weeks, or years leading up to that event. This study design is abundant in the cancer literature to understand end-of-life care patterns, costs, and experiences of death. More recently this design has been applied to the ESKD population. This is a population where mortality rates exceed those of the major cancer subtypes, so patient death is a common event, and one of great interest to clinicians and epidemiologists alike.
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The concepts of hope and its absence, hopelessness, are seen as crucial in palliative care for people with motor neurone disease. A primary measure in psychological research on hopelessness in people with motor neurone disease is the Beck Hopelessness Scale. This scale can be understood as being conceptually based on the philosophical standard account of hope, which understands hope as an intentional expectancy. This essay argues that this is a misconstruction of hopelessness in palliative care. Rather, pre-intentional hope is essential for palliative care of people with motor neurone disease. Pre-intentional hope enables the formation of intentional hopes and is intrinsically relational. Finally, it is argued that the absence of pre-intentional hope should not be subjected to psychiatric diagnosis, for example, in the form of demoralization disorder.
Death rattle commonly occurs at the end of life and is typically managed with anticholinergic agents. Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by fatigability of skeletal muscle, resulting from autoimmune destruction of acetylcholine receptors at the motor endplate. The condition is treated with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which potentiate the action of acetylcholine. Agents that antagonize acetylcholine activity (e.g., anticholinergic agents, such as glycopyrrolate) can, therefore, exacerbate myasthenia gravis. We discuss the case of a patient dying with myasthenia gravis that developed problematic "death rattle," and the successful use of glycopyrrolate in treating this symptom.
Background: Motor neurone disease is a terminal neurological illness with no known cure. It is often referred to as a ‘family disease’ with the ripples causing additional implications for children and young people. As such, little is known about how to best support young people (24 years old and under) (WHO, 2019)) when a family member dies from the disease. One potential solution is through use of a digital legacy whereby videos which document a person’s life, memories and achievements are purposefully recorded by an adult during their illness. However, due to this being an emerging area of research, little is known about whether a digital legacy may support or hinder bereavement for young people affected by the disease.
Aim: To investigate healthcare professionals, specialists and experts views, perceptions and experiences of using digital legacies with bereaved young people due to motor neurone disease.
Design: A qualitative study underpinned by interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Setting/participants: Twenty healthcare professionals, specialists and experts were recruited using a maximum purposive sampling method. Open-ended interviews were conducted in participants’ place of work either over the telephone or by the lead researcher. Ethical approval was granted by a university ethics committee and Health Research Authority (HRA).
Findings: Two key overarching themes were identified from the data: perceived benefit and value for bereaved young people using a digital legacy and challenges and barriers for bereaved young people using a digital legacy.
Conclusion: A number of potential challenges and considerations were identified. However, the use of a digital legacy was perceived to be a feasible and valuable method of support for young people bereaved as a result of motor neurone disease.
Le père d'Olivia, 10 ans, est malade. Atteint d'une maladie neurodégénérative, il ne peut plus monter les escaliers et est installé en bas, jusqu'au moment où il devra être hospitalisé et où il décidera de ne plus lutter. A travers le regard d'Olivia, heureuse d'être entourée de tous les siens et de son chat, entre les larmes et les rires, nous suivons le quotidien de la famille confrontée à la maladie et à la fin de vie.
A major unresolved problem in neurodegenerative disease is why and how a specific set of neurons in the brain are highly vulnerable to neuronal death. Multiple pathways and mechanisms have been proposed to play a role in Alzheimer disease (AD), Parkinson disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington disease (HD), yet how they contribute to neuronal vulnerability remains far from clear. In this review, various mechanisms ascribed in AD, PD, ALS, and HD will be briefly summarized. Particular focus will be placed on Rhes-mediated intercellular transport of the HD protein and its role in mitophagy, in which I will discuss some intriguing observations that I apply to model striatal vulnerability in HD. I may have unintentionally missed referring some studies in this review, and I extend my apologies to the authors in those circumstances.
AIM: Evaluation of pediatric palliative home care of families with children suffering from neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA) and their parents.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The children were treated at home by a multidisciplinary team. Densitometry was used to evaluate the condition of the skeletal system. Botulinum toxin was injected into the muscles in doses between 22 and 50 units/kg. The quality of palliative care was assessed on the basis of a specially designed questionnaire for parents.
RESULTS: The observations were performed on a group of 9 patients with NBIA. On admission, the median age of patients was 9 years (7-14). The average time of palliative home care was 1569 days (34 days-17 years). The median age at death (6 patients) was 11 years (7-15). The botulinum toxin injections gave the following results: reduction of spasticity and dystonia, reduction of spine and chest deformation, relief of pain and suffering, facilitation of rehabilitation and nursing, prevention of permanent contractures, and reduction of excessive salivation. Bone mineral density and bone strength index were reduced. Two patients experienced pathological fracture of the femur. The body mass index at admission varied between 9.8 and 14.9. In 7 cases, introduction of a ketogenic diet resulted in the increase of body mass and height. The ketogenic diet did not worsen the neurological symptoms. The parents positively evaluated the quality of care.
CONCLUSION: Palliative home care is the optimal form of treatment for children with NBIA.
Palliative care is an approach to the care of patients, affected by serious illness, and their families that aims to reduce suffering through the management of medical symptoms, psychosocial issues, spiritual well-being, and setting goals of care. Patients and families affected by a neurodegenerative illness have significant palliative care needs beginning at the time of diagnosis and extending through end-of-life care and bereavement. We advocate an approach to addressing these needs where the patient's primary care provider or neurologist plays a central role. Key skills in providing effective palliative care to this population include providing the diagnosis with compassion, setting goals of care, anticipating safety concerns, caregiver assessment, advance care planning, addressing psychosocial concerns, and timely referral to a hospice. Managing distressing medical and psychiatric symptoms is critical to improving quality of life throughout the disease course as well as at end-of-life. Many symptoms are common across illnesses; however, there are issues that are specific to the most common classes of neurodegenerative illness, namely dementia, parkinsonism, and motor neuron disease. Incorporating a palliative approach to care, although challenging in many ways, empowers physicians to provide greater support and guidance to patients and families in making the difficult journey through a neurodegenerative illness.
Introduction : Notre équipe régionale ressource de soins palliatifs pédiatriques (ERRSPP) a accompagné une enfant de 12 ans polyhandicapée atteinte d’une maladie génétique neurodégénérative pendant 5 ans. La qualité de l’alliance entre la famille et l’IEM et le soutien de l’ERRSPP a permis de créer un climat propice à une demande particulière de la famille : un accompagnement jusqu’au décès dans l’établissement. Aujourd’hui en France, la possibilité d’un accompagnement en phase terminale reste exceptionnelle dans les IEM, les patients étant transférés sur le Centre Hospitalier.
Histoire de S. : un accompagnement de 5 ans au sein de l’IEM : L’ERRSPP et l’IEM ont été en lien régulièrement pour établir un projet de vie autour de cet enfant. Un travail de réflexion autour de sa fin de vie a été mené : prescription anticipée pour douleur et/ou symptômes rebelles, voie d’abord, disponibilités des différents intervenants, la place de chacun au sein de l’établissement, l’accompagnement des parents. Cet enfant est décédé à l’âge de 17 ans au sein de son établissement selon le souhait des parents. L’IEM a eu la volonté de suivre le souhait familial malgré les contraintes et les faibles moyens de l’établissement. L’ERRSPP a permis de sécuriser la mise en place des différents traitements selon les symptômes et d’assurer le soutien des professionnels.
Conclusion/discussion : La réunion post-décès souligne un accompagnement de qualité, (confort de l’enfant, personnel se sentant soutenu) malgré des difficultés réelles (absence de présence médicale continue, nombre limité de soignants et nombre élevé de patients).
Background: Motor neurone disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease without cure. Little is known about how young people are affected when a family member has the illness and subsequently dies, resulting in a gap in understanding of how best to support them. One psychotherapeutic approach involves creating a legacy to pass onto the young person, but little research has investigated the use of an emerging format, digital legacies, where videos document a person’s life, memories and achievements.
Aim: To investigate the views, perceptions and experiences of digital legacies with people affected by motor neurone disease.
Design: A qualitative study underpinned by interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Setting/participants: People living with motor neurone disease (n = 4) and bereaved young people (n = 3) in the United Kingdom. Open-ended interviews were conducted in person. Ethical approval was granted by a University ethics committee.
Results: Five key themes emerged exemplifying mutual challenges and benefits for people with motor neurone disease and bereaved young people. Creating a digital legacy provides a sense of purpose for people with motor neurone disease and a way to convey personality and life experiences. Bereaved young people can modify disease-related memories of the person and gain comfort from hearing and seeing videos.
Conclusion: This study expands the existing continuing bonds model of grief to include an ‘autobiographical chapter’, creating ‘The Model of Reciprocal Bonds Formation’.
Objective: To explore end-of-life (EoL) decision-making and palliative care in hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) nationwide.
Methods: A cross-sectional national study on moderate-to-severe HIE in newborns =35 weeks’ gestational age in 2015, including all 57 level III units that offered hypothermia. Forty-one questions were included to explore how the prognosis is established, as well as timing of the decision-making process, and also how ongoing palliative care is offered.
Results: The main difficulties in EoL decisions lie in the scarce time to make an early, accurate prognosis. Only 20% shared the neurological prognosis with the parents within 72 hours of life, and in only a third of the centres is the nurse present when the prognostic information is given to the family. Almost 50% do not use protocols to order the EoL process. Practically, all centres (91%) reported taking into account the wishes of the parents. However, in 30% the team does not always reach consensus on how the withdrawal process. Specialised psychological support is available in 54% of the hospitals; in more than 50%, interviews are not arranged to examine the grieving process with parents.
Conclusions: There are four areas for improvement in the comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the EoL decision in the patient with HIE: (1) the need for EoL and interdisciplinary palliative care protocols, (2) participation of nurses in the process and improvement in the nurse–physician communication, (3) psychological support for parents involved in the EoL decisions and (4) implementation of strategies to give support during the grieving process.
Background: Abrupt withdrawal of pharmacological therapies for myasthenia gravis can exacerbate muscle weakness and even trigger myasthenic crisis. Such medications should ideally be continued, but how this can be achieved in patients approaching the end of life, particularly when enteral administration is compromised, has not been defined.
Case History: An 83-year-old man with a history of generalized myasthenia gravis and palliative metastatic anal adenocarcinoma was admitted to his local hospital with general decline, where he was considered by more than one physician to be actively dying from his cancer. In the days preceding admission, the patient had not taken his medications consistently, including the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, pyridostigmine, for the management of his myasthenia gravis.
Case Management and Outcome: Reintroduction of the patient's usual myasthenia therapy improved his clinical condition to the point where he was no longer thought to be dying. When enteral administration of pyridostigmine was no longer possible, the patient was successfully converted to neostigmine, which was administered as a continuous subcutaneous infusion.
Conclusion:Undertreated myasthenia gravis can lead to a rapid deterioration in a patient's clinical condition, and such patients may be mistakenly diagnosed as dying. Undertreated myasthenia gravis should therefore be considered as a potentially reversible cause of acute deterioration, especially in patients with complex comorbidities. The use of neostigmine as a continuous subcutaneous infusion may have a role in the management of such patients, particularly when enteral administration of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors is no longer possible.
Background: Despite the global consensus on the importance of palliative care for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), many patients in developing countries do not receive palliative care. Improving access to palliative care for MS requires a contextual understanding of how palliative care is perceived by patients and health professionals, the existing care pathways, and barriers to the provision of palliative care.
Objective: This study aims to examine and contrast the perceptions of MS patients, neurologists, and palliative care physicians towards providing palliative care for patients with MS in Malaysia.
Methods: 2 MS patients, 5 neurologists, and 5 palliative care physicians participated in this qualitative study. Each participant took part in a semi-structured interview. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and analysed using an iterative thematic analysis approach.
Results: Patients and neurologists mostly associated palliative care with the end-of-life and struggled to understand the need for palliative care in MS. Another barrier was the lack of understanding about the palliative care needs of MS patients. Palliative care physicians also identified the scarcity of resources and their lack of experience with MS as barriers. The current referral-based care pathway itself was found to be a barrier to the provision of palliative care.
Conclusions: MS patients in Malaysia face several barriers in accessing palliative care. Overcoming these barriers will require improving the shared understanding of palliative care and its role in MS. The existing care pathway also needs to be reformed to ensure that it improves access to palliative care for MS patients.
The majority of epilepsy deaths are sudden, unexpected, and most prevalent among young adults. The number of people affected by a death can be high, as extended family and social networks survive. Those bereaved are at risk of developing traumatic and complex grief reactions and need access to specialist bereavement support as soon as possible after a death. It helps bereaved families to know how the death happened. They want lessons to be learnt and deaths to be prevented in future. The process of investigation into the death - which can contribute to these aims - may alienate families if not handled well and cause further trauma. Loss of participation by those bereaved can lead to suboptimal investigation and missed opportunities for learning and prevention. With integrated specialist emotional and practical support, tailored to the individual, families can be empowered to participate as they choose, with those working to understand and prevent epilepsy deaths. SUDEP Action (formerly Epilepsy Bereaved) is a charity which provides specialist services for people bereaved by epilepsy. It is the only organization which delivers these services globally. It was set up by the bereaved for the bereaved and has developed its model through more than twenty years' experience of supporting bereaved people. If the bereaved are signposted to specialist support of the sort SUDEP Action provides as soon as possible after a death, that early intervention can help to alleviate the effects of traumatic bereavement and restore an element of control and choice as they navigate what is to come. Early intervention by signposting to skilled experienced epilepsy death-related bereavement services could be vital.
Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Ideal management plan in MND includes palliative care initiated from the time of diagnosis. At present, most of the neurodegenerative conditions are cared for at home. Neuropalliative care is an emerging concept in India and social workers are integral team members in this process. The primary aims of the study were to explore (a) the caregivers' experiences of the end-of-life stage, and (b) the sources of support for individuals and their caregivers with MND at the end-of-life stage. In-depth interviews were conducted with seven bereaved caregivers of individuals with MND from a national tertiary referral care center for neuropsychiatry in South India. Interviews were conducted either in person or by telephone. Thematic analysis was done using the constant comparative method. Major themes derived from the interviews were: (1) Transition from person to patient, (2) support, (3) death, and (4) impact on the caregivers. Mapping of themes identified "Support received during advanced stages" as the central theme influencing all other themes. The need for a care manager seems evident and is a role that can be effectively fulfilled by the care teams' social workers.