In a nutshell
This study looked at how motor symptoms progressed in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It found that motor symptoms progressed more quickly during the first 15 months of the pandemic than during the 15 months before it.
PD symptoms involving muscles and movement are called motor symptoms. Motor symptoms include speech problems, difficulty expressing emotions on your face, and problems moving the arms and legs. The Movement Disorder Society-Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale Part III (MDS-UPDRS Part 3), is a scale used to measure the motor symptoms of PD. The higher the score, the worse the symptoms.
Apart from medication to keep the motor symptoms of PD from worsening, physical therapy is an important part of PD treatment. COVID-19 restrictions have led people with PD to be unable to access physical therapy. They have also resulted in people with PD and other conditions being unable to leave their houses and exercise for long periods of time. It is unclear what effect this may have had on patients' symptoms.
Methods & findings
This study involved 264 patients with PD. Patients had been diagnosed with PD for an average of 14.5 years. Patients' MDS-UPDRS Part III scores were measured before the pandemic (September 2018 – December 2019), and during the pandemic (January 2020 – April 2021).
In the 15 month period before the pandemic, MDS-UPDRS scores increased by an average of 0.73 points. During the first 15 months of the pandemic, MDS-UPDRS scores increased by an average of 1.82 points. This indicates a more rapid progression of motor symptoms during the pandemic than before it.
The bottom line
This study showed that patients with Parkinson's disease had a more rapid decline in motor symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic than before it. This may be due to the lack of access to physiotherapy and other supports, as well as the disruption to normal physical activity.
The fine print
This study did not gather any information about the daily activities of participants. Therefore it cannot prove that the change in symptoms is due to decreased activity resulting from COVID-19 restrictions. Further studies are needed to investigate this link.
Published By :
Journal of Parkinson’s disease
Aug 08, 2021
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