Survey Highlights Deep Impact of Nonmotor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease

  • Parkinson disease

A survey on the effects of nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) conducted by the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Alliance (PMD Alliance) has been published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. Key findings include that over 84% of people with PD and their caregivers say the nonmotor symptoms of PD negatively affect their quality of life and 88% said that the nonmotor symptoms were as or more challenging to live with than the motor symptoms of PD. 

Of note is that nonmotor symptoms of PD affect activities thought to promote brain health, including socialization, family-support networks, and sleep. Of 700 individuals who responded to the survey, 84% said that nonmotor symptoms negatively affected their sleep and 72% said it affected their ability to care for themselves. For more than half, going out to restaurants (69%) or movies (61%), socializing (58%), and making plans with family and friends (57%) were made difficult by nonmotor symptoms.

Dr. Robert A. Hauser, director of the Parkinson's & Movement Disorder Center, professor of Neurology at University of South Florida, Tampa FL, and lead author of the publication, said, “This survey confirmed the high prevalence of nonmotor symptoms, and we also saw that caregivers reported a higher prevalence that people with PD did. Critically, twice as many caregivers reported negative effects of nonmotor symptoms, suggesting that health care providers need to include caregivers in the discussion with their patients to fully understand occurrence, magnitude, and effects of nonmotor symptoms.” 

Hauser also noted that while many nonmotor symptoms can be hard to treat, when nonmotor symptoms are not addressed, there is a missed opportunity to improved health through use of existing treatments for sleep difficulties (especially promoting sleep hygiene), depression, and delusions.

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