With symptoms often masquerading as other ailments, Parkinson’s can distress victims when diagnosis is detoured, but scientists can now pinpoint its incidence with a new set of criteria recently developed at Montreal’s McGill University.
Experts at the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS) have found a way to improve identification and treatment of Parkinson’s, particularly in its early stages, and published their findings in the journal Movement Disorders.
To date, the disease has only been identified via medical history and neurological examination, lacking objective measures of data. Consequently, misdiagnosis rates have reached as high as 25 percent, frustrating patients and practitioners alike as well as muddying the waters for data collection.
McGill doctors proposed a new stage classification by emphasizing recognition of the disorder at its early stages.
"In light of the latest scientific insights and technological advances, we were able to establish a new list of criteria based on expert clinical diagnosis," Dr. Ron Postuma, MDS task force co-chair, neurosciences researcher and associate professor at McGill University, said. "Our aim was to create a benchmark that will systematize the diagnostic process, make it reproducible across centers and … enable a wider range of non-PD-specialized clinicians to provide patients with an accurate diagnosis."
The team aims to create a platform to support the recognition of early-onset symptoms as research proceeds. As doctors continue to learn which mechanisms are involved in the progression of Parkinson’s, they hope to develop appropriate therapies and treatments aimed at slowing or even stopping the disease.
"These criteria accent how Parkinson's disease is much more than a simple motor disorder, now incorporating motor and non-motor symptoms as well as the genetic component in some forms of PD," Dr. Daniela Berg, chair of the MDS task force and associate professor at the University of Tübingen in Germany, said.
The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society is a professional society of more than 4,500 clinicians, scientists and others dedicated to improving the care of patients with movement disorders via education and research.