Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Child Neurology and COVID-19: Hearing from Our Members

By Phillip L. Pearl, MD | CNS President

Phillip L. Pearl, MD | CNS President

Our third month into lockdown and society is wearing thin. The clouds in this storm continue to rumble, with occasional openings of light and then spurts of gray. This will be a long haul, with recovery in fits and starts, but we are up to the task. All of our practices, departments, institutions, and professional societies have had to dodge, pivot, and adapt to bear with this pandemic. The CNS has been relentlessly active in surveying, reporting, and advocating for the practice of pediatric neurology.

Within the first two weeks of March, the Society produced a joint statement with the Child Neurology Foundation of practical advice for practitioners and families. In short order, our Ethics Committee, chaired by William Graf, and Leon Epstein, chair of the AAN Ethics, Law, and Humanities Committee (and co-signer on the Hastings Letter to the White House and Congress on the very real pressing issues that come to bear in a pandemic, including protection of health care workers and potential rationing of limited resources) distributed a statement of practical bioethics in a pandemic; this is available on the CNS website with a full version now published in Pediatric Neurology.

We joined together with partner organizations, including the AAN, ACNS, AES, CNF, ILAE, and NAEC, for a concerted response to the rapidly emerging issues. Challenges in dealing with our most vulnerable populations arose quickly, and the Practice Committee, in concert with the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Consortium, produced recommendations for the management of new onset infantile spasms distributed to the membership, posted on our website with links to the partner organizations, and now in press in the Journal of Child Neurology with an accompanying editorial in press in the Annals of Neurology. We put together a telemedicine toolkit from the Telemedicine SIG, and a protocol for telehealth examinations from the Electronic Communications Committee applicable to specific ages, from infancy through adolescence. We are now focused on the re-entry of pediatric neurology clinics and hope to make this, again, a very practical document, that poises us to optimistically enter a recovery mode. The Research Committee has assembled a document at the request of NINDS for research priorities in child neurology, and pivoted quickly with a survey recently released to explore how the pandemic has affected research activities and resources.

Meanwhile, we have asked our committee chairs and society leaders to share their strategies, challenges, and solutions at the local level with us. This is our chance to hear and learn from each other. CNS Councillors Nigel Bamford, Nancy Bass, Lori Jordan, and Mark Wainwright solicited personal perspectives from colleagues practicing in their geographic areas; a sampling has been collected and published in this issue, and the results are compelling. The CNS could not have a better business advisor than our own Secretary-treasurer, Bruce Cohen, with his usual sound and commonsense approach that always provides just the right perspective. I thank Roger Larson, our Executive Director, for helping to compile and categorize this information with the expertise of a qualitative researcher. There could be no better editorial expertise than provided by Roger, working in tandem with Dan Bonthius, our CNS Connections Editor, to produce this special issue that is sure to be insightful and informative for all.

The long planned and anticipated October meeting, our Society’s 49th and the first in 25 years to be held with our international partner, ICNA, is on everyone’s minds. We are working actively in the national office and Executive Committee to plan the best possible event. There will be more to follow on that score. Meanwhile, imbibe in this special issue of CNS Connections, dedicated to the response of Child Neurology to COVID-19.