Persistence of associations between cognitive impairment and motor dysfunction in the early phase of Parkinson’s disease
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- Domellöf, M.E., Forsgren, L. & Elgh, E. J Neurol (2013) 260: 2228. doi:10.1007/s00415-013-6971-6
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The relation between cognitive and motor functions in Parkinson’s disease is not fully understood. In an incidence population of newly diagnosed drug naïve patients with Parkinson’s disease, associations were found between the degree of bradykinesia and postural instability and gait disturbances, measured by the Unified Disease Rating Scale, and different types of cognitive functions. To investigate the stability of these associations over time, we explored the association of differences between baseline and 1-year follow-up in 91 incident cases with Parkinson’s disease. The magnitude of change between the two assessments was assessed together with analysis of differences based on which dopaminergic medication was used. Change in bradykinesia was associated with change in working memory and mental flexibility. Changes in postural instability and gait disturbances were associated with change in visuospatial memory. A negative effect of the dopamine agonist pramipexole on phonemic fluency performance was found compared to treatment with other dopaminergic drugs. Change in cognitive and motor functions were associated from time of diagnosis until 1 year after diagnosis. These persisting findings strengthen results from a previous cross-sectional study suggesting similar associations. The effects of dopamine agonists on phonemic fluency should be investigated further.