My First Virtual Neurology Visit

In Part 1 of this digital adventure, I shared about the growing pains my neurologist’s office was experiencing in switching patients over from in-person visits to virtual visits during the time of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. I expect that virtual visits will continue to be more common once the crisis has passed. What we are really talking about here is the future of telehealth.

Back to my story.

Not much changes in virtual time, really

So the actual visit!

I checked into my virtual visit 30 minutes in advance as instructed. While hanging out on the computer reading articles and checking Facebook, my MS nurse finally popped up in my open Zoom window. I noticed that she had placed herself on a sunset beach (fake background), and we briefly talked about how weird the #stayhome situation felt.

Going over my last MRI results with the nurse

My MS nurse had read my submitted, rather in-depth, papers so didn’t have too many questions for me. She told me what I already knew about my MRI results from November — stable disease and evidence of a massive sinus infection — and my low Vitamin D lab results from January. She recommended increasing my daily D3 intake which I had already done when I saw those same results.

The virtual neurological exam

To conduct the virtual neurological exam, my MS nurse asked me to back up from the computer screen a bit. Fortunately, I was in a space that this was possible. She followed the tracking of my eyes, had me make different “funny faces” to check cranial nerves, and asked me to go through many of the same arm and finger movements we typically do.

We're all learning

I realized later that my MS nurse has to get used to conducting business in this new reality just as much as her patients. When she asked me to touch my nose and then reach toward the computer screen, she forgot to ask me to close my eyes. That’s ok; we’re all learning.

She didn't check any lower limb function

What was unusual was that she didn’t ask me to demonstrate any lower limb function — sit-to-stand maneuvers, tippy-toe walking, etc. I suppose when she asked me to move back from the computer screen and I had to get up and move my chair, that entire maneuver demonstrated enough that my lower body strength and balance were in fact as normal and intact.

Actually, what she ended up saying near the end of our limited neurological exam was that I was usually so good at reporting things that she knew I’d tell her if something were “off.” And she’s right.

What happens next?

After the exam was over, my MS nurse took the time to update me which the information that their MS practice of 2000 patients already had known COVID-19 cases. Due to the concern for staff and patients, the neurology center would switch all in-person visits to virtual visits for at least the next six months or longer.

Only patients who needed in-office treatment (i.e., infusions) or testing would be asked to come in. Everybody else would be smiling and making faces through a computer screen for the foreseeable future.

Having a good relationship with my medical team

Of course, my experience with this first virtual neurological exam may be quite different than your own, if your doctor switches over. I think the reason our visit went so smoothly, and wasn’t much different than an in-person visit, is because my health practitioner and I know each other really well. She trusts that I will report anything new or troublesome. Having a medical team you trust is quite valuable.

What’s your experience?

Since telehealth is new to many of us, it’d be great if you could share your story. Has your neurologist switched to virtual visits for the time being? If you’d had such a visit, what was it like? Was it much different than a usual visit for you?

Stay well, my friends,


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