Dimensionality of Parkinsonian signs in aging and Alzheimer's disease

David A. Bennett, Kathleen M. Shannon, Laurel A Beckett, Robert S. Wilson

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82 Scopus citations


Background. Parkinsonian signs are commonly found on the neurologic examination of older persons and are associated with morbidity and mortality. The extent to which parkinsonian signs in aging and Alzheimer's disease cluster in groups typical of Parkinson's disease has not been investigated previously. Methods. The motor portion of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), or a version with minor modifications, was administered to more than 2,800 persons in three cohorts: (a) 637 older persons with a wide range of neurologic conditions participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, a study of common health problems of a random sample of older persons from a geographically defined biracial community population; (b) 638 relatively healthy and highly educated older persons from 25 Catholic religious communities participating in the Religious Orders Study, a longitudinal clinical-pathologic study of aging; and (c) 1,546 older persons undergoing evaluation for possible dementia at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, an urban, tertiary care center that evaluates persons for possible dementia. Separate factor analyses were performed on each data set. Additional analyses examined the factor structure in subsets by gender and race. Results. A similar grouping of items emerged in each cohort and did not differ substantially by gender or race. The factors corresponded closely with the traditional grouping of parkinsonian signs into bradykinesia, gait disturbance, rigidity, and tremor. Conclusions. The grouping of parkinsonian signs is consistent in diverse samples of older persons and does not vary substantially across gender or race. The results provide an empirical basis for summarizing the principal motoric manifestations of parkinsonism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging


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