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Survey Examines Patient Perceptions of Cognitive Changes in Parkinson’s Disease

KINGSTON, N.J., October 19, 2016/ -- The Parkinson Alliance conducted its 21st survey-based research, entitled Cognition and Parkinson’s Disease: The Patient’s Perspective.  Changes in thinking skills are common in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), particularly involving slowness of thinking, memory, “word-finding difficulties,” and managing more complex information.  Although our understanding about changes in thinking skills for those with PD continues to increase, there is limited understanding about how individuals with PD perceive cognitive difficulties and the related impact on “everyday activities.”  Concepts and categories applied to discussions of cognitive changes are unclear or can be misunderstood by patients, family, and even clinicians.  This survey found that the majority of participants (82%) were experiencing cognitive difficulties, and this report provides a better understanding about this complex topic.  

Data was gathered from 1,548 individuals with PD.  The most frequently reported cognitive difficulties involved memory and expressive language skills, followed by slowed processing speed and difficulties with executive functioning.  Slowed processing speed and increased difficulties with executive functions were perceived as the most pronounced changes as PD progresses.  The majority of participants reported experiencing an adverse impact of cognition on daily functions, with 22% (Younger and Early Disease Duration PD Group) to 43% (Older and Late Advanced PD Group) reported a moderate to extreme impact of cognitive difficulties on daily functions.

“Neuroscientists have become increasingly aware that cognitive dysfunction is not only an expected change for many individuals with PD, it can also be one of the most concerning and debilitating symptoms.  Therefore, understanding patients’ perspectives about their experiences has important implications for healthcare practices, particularly in the context of a “patient-centered” approach to care.  This report highlights many pertinent points regarding perceived changes in cognition as it relates to age and disease duration, current cognitive difficulties, and important implications related to the impact of cognitive difficulties on day-to-day functions.  Recommendations pertaining to cognitive functioning in individuals with PD are also discussed," comments Jeffrey Wertheimer, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, clinical neuropsychologist and Chief Research Consultant for The Parkinson Alliance.  
Download our cognition report at:

About The Parkinson Alliance
The Parkinson Alliance is a national non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for Parkinson’s research and improving the quality of life in the DBS community.  After undergoing bi-lateral DBS in 2000, Margaret Tuchman, President of PA, founded to keep the community informed.

Carol Walton
The Parkinson Alliance