Axial motor impairments are a common cause of disability in patients with Parkinson's disease, become more prominent with longer disease duration, and have been said to be less responsive to levodopa replacement therapy. The ability to turn in bed while lying supine before and after dopaminergic stimulation was studied in a group of 36 patients with Parkinson's disease; 23 were in Hoehn and Yahr stages 3-5 when "off", and 13 were in stages 1-2. Turning was also compared with postural stability and gait before ("off") and after ("on") dopaminergic stimulation. Failure to turn in bed was noted in 19 of the 36 patients in the "off" state, with significant associations between disturbances of gait, postural stability, rising from a chair, whole body bradykinesia, and axial rigidity. Gait, postural stability, rising from a chair, whole body bradykinesia, and axial rigidity were significantly correlated in the "off" state. Disorder of axial movement, gait, and postural stability were not dependent on age at onset of Parkinson's disease, but did relate to duration of disease. After a levodopa challenge, turning in bed returned to normal in all but one patient, and gait, postural stability, rising from a chair, whole body bradykinesia, and axial rigidity also improved in nearly all. It is concluded that in the later stages of Parkinson's disease at least some aspects of axial motor control can remain dopamine responsive.
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