Research Insights

Importance of motor vs. non-motor symptoms for health-related quality of life in early Parkinson

Müller B1, Assmus J, Herlofson K, Larsen JP, Tysnes OB. Importance of motor vs. non-motor symptoms for health-related quality of life in early Parkinson , 2013 Nov;19(11):1027-32. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2013.07.010. Epub 2013 Aug

Intro:     There are multiple motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and many research studies have focused on one or the other in people with PD (PWP) concerning quality of life.  The authors of this study wanted to evaluate a variety of motor and non-motor symptoms that predicted quality of life scores in PWP that had yet to undergo treatment for PD.

Methods:  One hundred and sixty six PWP underwent evaluation prior to undergoing any medicinal treatments and then again three years later.  The PWP took a questionnaire measuring quality of life, multiple physical measurements were taken, and questions were asked during a medical exam regarding many symptoms of PD. 
Results:   Participants were PWP from Norway, about 67 years old at the onset of the study and classified as having mild motor symptoms.  The researchers looked at the motor and non-motor symptoms that predicted quality of life scores and found that prior to treatment, sensory complaints (e.g. pain), autonomic symptoms, fatigue, and depression were the biggest factors to explain the scores.  After three years of treatment, the study showed fatigue, gait disturbance, sensory complaints, and depression as the best predictors of quality of life scores for the PWP.  They also found that fatigue became more problematic and significantly worsened the quality of life scores at the three-year mark.  The study used statistical analyses to determine which symptoms were the best predictors and found that certain motor symptoms also contributed, though not as much, to quality of life scores including walking difficulties, ability to complete daily tasks, sleep related motor symptoms, and rigidity.

Conclusion:   The researchers found that the nonmotor symptoms were better predictors of quality of life scores in the PWP than the motor symptoms.  They discussed that non-motor symptoms have shown similar findings in other studies but such studies have often times hypothesized that result was due to the motor symptoms being treated while the non-motor symptoms were not.  The current study found that even before medical treatment was initiated for motor symptoms, non-motor symptoms were a better predictor of quality of life.

Click here to read the abstract.

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