Doctors and nurses should find it easier to identify non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's thanks to the introduction of a new questionnaire.
The newly published resource, which is the first of its kind, has been given the backing of the Parkinson's Disease Society (PDS).
The questionnaire aims to make it easier for symptoms such as sleep problems, depression, fatigue, blurred vision, and sweating, to be picked up.
Research has shown that non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's are not picked up by neurologists in more than 50 per cent of consultations.
Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research for the Society, said: "Many people with Parkinson's find non-motor symptoms can be more debilitating than the motor symptoms because, while motor symptoms can be treated with drugs, non-motor symptoms, such as depression or sleep problems, are not picked up and so go untreated.
"We are keen to promote use of this questionnaire to raise awareness among medical professionals, as well as people with Parkinson's, that non-motor symptoms do exist and if recognised, they can be treated, improving the lives of people living with Parkinson's."
After identifying this gap in diagnosis, the International PD Non Motor Group - a multi-disciplinary group of Parkinson's experts - has spent the past two years creating and validating a questionnaire to help identify the range of non-motor symptoms that may be affecting the lives of people with Parkinson's. The questionnaire is to be filled in by people with Parkinson's before they visit their doctor or Parkinson's Disease Nurse Specialist (PDNS) and takes between five and seven minutes to fill in.
The group's lead clinician, Dr Ray Chaudhuri, from the Movement Disorders Unit at King's College Hospital, London, said: "We all felt that diagnosis of non-motor symptoms was a huge unmet area in Parkinson's. Research into individual symptoms has been done, but there has been nothing that takes into account that patients often have a spectrum of symptoms.
"This questionnaire is meant to provide a way of flagging up the range of non-motor symptoms that occur in Parkinson's. It is integral to the modern management of Parkinson's."
The questionnaire was tested on 123 people with Parkinson's and 96 control patients, without Parkinson's. Of those with Parkinson's, 78 per cent said the questionnaire helped doctors treat their condition better. And 90 per cent said the symptoms listed in the questionnaire were appropriate and relevant to their day-to-day lives.
Results of the study led to recommendations that the non-motor symptoms questionnaire is routinely used in clinics while patient waiting to be seen as a screening tool.
For your copy of the questionnaire visit www.parkinsons.org.uk, or call Sharwards on 01473 212 113, quoting reference B116.
Notes to editors
1. For media enquiries contact Grace Henderson on 020 7932 1326 or 020 7963 9370.
2. There are 120,000 people in the UK who have Parkinson's and 10,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year. The Parkinson's Disease Society is the UK's leading authority on all aspects of the condition. The charity campaigns for a better quality of life for people with Parkinson's. The PDS provides field staff, local information and maintains 300 branches. The PDS spent £3.4 million in 2005 alone funding research into the cause, cure and treatment of Parkinson's.
3. The general enquiries number of the PDS is 020 7931 8080. The website address is www.parkinsons.org.uk and the free helpline number is 0808 800 0303.
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Parkinson's Disease Society
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Tel: 020 7932 1335
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