Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease: The Patient’s Perspective
We continue to learn about the importance of Non-motor Symptoms (NMS) for individuals with PD. NMS are known to be diverse and may include, but are not limited to, sleep disturbance, fatigue, depression, anxiety, difficulties with thinking, and autonomic disorders (e.g., problems with the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, perspiration, and bowel and bladder functions). Only more recently has the significant impact of these symptoms on quality of life (QOL) become more appreciated. In our survey, 24 out of 31 NMS categories were experienced by more than 50% of the participants. Urination difficulty, fatigue, sleep, constipation, and cognitive difficulties were the symptoms most frequently reported to adversely impact day-to-day living, and cognitive difficulties followed by sleep disturbance had the strongest impact to quality of life. The overwhelming evidence that NMS burden drives quality of life of the patient has remained a relatively new frontier for exploration, at least in depth and scope as it relates to assessment and treatment of the spectrum of symptoms. Management of NMS remains an unmet need for individuals with PD.
With increased attention to and awareness about the patient’s perspective about NMS, there is an opportunity for improved treatment for such troubling and potentially debilitating symptoms. An integrated treatment team will likely lead to better outcomes, particularly working with individuals who specialize in addressing NMS that are commonly experienced by individuals with PD.