Simple clinical tests help differentiate Parkinson's disease

18 November 2014

Two new simple tests could determine whether a patient has early-stage Parkinson's disease (PD) or atypical parkinsonism. The studies, which would be conducted during a neurological exam, would require participants to perform a tandem gait test and ask them certain questions like whether they are able to ride a bicycle. 

This information would help professional determine whether the patient's medio-lateral balance is impaired, which is a defining characteristic of atypical parkinsonism. 

Reported in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, the first test analysed 36 patients with PD and 49 patients with atypical parkinsonism through the tandem gait test. They were all asked to take ten steps along an imaginary straight, thin line, toe-to-heel. Participants were given an abnormal reading if they had to take one or more side steps to maintain balance. 

It found that 18 per cent of those with atypical parkinsonism were able to perform the test, compared to 92 per cent of people with PD.

The second study took 45 patients with PD and 64 patients with atypical parkinsonism who could all ride bikes before the start of their motor symptoms. It found that 52 per cent of atypical parkinsonism patients said they had stopped cycling compared to just two per cent of those with PD.

Posted by Philip Briggs​


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