The Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
Before we discuss the various Parkinson’s disease late-stage complications, let’s first have a quick review of its progression.
Doctors use several scales to assess the severity of PD. For instance, they can use the Hoehn and Yahr scale which measures how the motor symptoms progress throughout the disease.
They can also refer to a more comprehensive tool called Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS).
The UPDRS is more inclusive in the sense that it measures the progression of not just the motor symptoms, but also the non-motor aspects such as mood, cognitive function, and social interactions.
To help you visualize what happens during the disease’ progression, here’s a brief description of the Hoehn and Yahr stages:
In stage 1, the patient only experiences mild symptoms, like tremors on one side of the body. These symptoms typically do not interfere with the patient’s ability to perform ADLs or activities of daily living.
The 2nd stage is when the symptoms get worse and the patient suffers from more difficulties. However, they will still be able to live on their own, albeit they’ll need a longer time to accomplish simple tasks.
This stage is considered as the mid-stage. The patient can still live on their own, but the symptoms have already significantly impaired their ability to perform simple activities like dressing up or eating.
At this stage, the patient already needs assistance to perform some activities. Hence, they cannot live on their own. Many experts say that the Parkinson’s disease late-stage complications start from this point onward.
This is the most advanced stage wherein the patient develops debilitating symptoms. Most patients become wheelchair-bound or bedridden, prompting them to require round-the-clock care.
Important reminder: Patients experience PD differently. Some would follow the typical progression from stages 1 to 5. Others would skip stages. How slow or fast the complications happen also vary.
6 Parkinson’s Disease Late-Stage Complications
Now let’s take a closer look at the complications of late-stage PD and the different ways by which they can be managed.
One of the most common complications of late-stage PD are motor-disabilities that could cause fall accidents.
According to research, even if patients can still stand unassisted in stage 4 PD, their capacity would be significantly limited.
This is because of the various motor disabilities like bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and fine motor skills problems.