The relative sensitivity of three methods for tracking the progression of Parkinson's disease over a 12-month period

Date of Completion

January 2005


Health Sciences, Medicine and Surgery|Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Experimental




Idiopathic Parkinson's disease is associated with loss of dopamine in the brain. This disease is marked by impairments of both speech and non-speech motor control. In this study three methods were compared to evaluate their relative sensitivities of measurement for tracking disease progression. These three methods include measurements of dopamine transporters in the brain with the Single Photon Electron Computer Tomography (SPECT), a symptomatic evaluation of gross motor movement with the Unified Parkinson's Disease Scale (UPRDS), and a voice acoustic analysis of speech motor control impairments. A group of 10 parkinsonian subjects was evaluated by all three methods at baseline and 12 months later. Only UPDRS measures significantly changed in this group over the one-year period. Both SPECT and voice acoustic analysis failed to show consistent change in this group of subjects. While the SPECT results reflect the high variability of scan-to-scan measures, the results for voice acoustic measures are discussed in context of the differences between symptoms related to speech versus non-speech motor control. ^