PREVIEW: 6th Meeting of the UK PD Non-Motor Group (PDNMG)

Conference details: 11th April, 2013; London, UK.

Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (NMS) are the leading cause of poor quality of life for both people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.  The slowness, stiffness and tremor of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are well known, but non-motor symptoms afflict more Parkinson’s patients. Though NMS affect every patient, they are under-recognised and under-treated. In a Parkinson’s UK survey, members rated symptoms such as sleep disturbance, pain, constipation, urinary problems and dizziness as more debilitating than their motor symptoms. Hospitalisation from PD is most likely to have been caused by NMS.  This loss of independent living has devastating social and economic consequences.

Despite the profound and negative effects of NMS, there is a dearth of research into causes and therapies. Treatment remains poor and quality of life progressively deteriorates. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Parkinson’s UK have identified the recognition and treatment of NMS across all stages of PD as a key unmet need. Little research explores the cause and progression of common NMS because funders have focused their attentions elsewhere. More recently, the Movement Disorders Society has formally adopted the Parkinson’s Non-Motor Group as one of their study groups.

An integrated and interactive combination of clinical and laboratory-based investigation is required that will focus on the causes and consequences of sleep disturbance, pain and autonomic dysfunction in PD. Holistic assessment is crucial rather than a piecemeal approach to NMS which tends to focus on cognitive issues alone.

This one day meeting of the Parkinson’s non motor group, revitalises highly successful meetings that were held from 2006-2011 and will focus on pre-motor non motor symptoms as well as the impact of NMS during the journey of a person with Parkinson’s. A multi-disciplinary faculty, including noted international opinion leaders in the field, will be speaking and the day promises to increase our understanding of the effects of PD on the brain in order to uncover the underlying causes of NMS. The meeting will also detail advances in the detection and treatment of NMS, thereby improving the quality of life of millions of people with Parkinson’s, both today and in the future.