WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE?

Parkinson’s disease progression varies from patient to patient. Some people with Parkinson’s may never experience certain symptoms or may experience some only at low severity. Others may experience symptoms early in their disease course or with greater severity.

The Hoehn and Yahr scale is one clinical tool to measure Parkinson’s disease progression. This scale categorizes motor symptom severity based on how it affects an individual’s mobility.

The Hoehn and Yahr stages include:

Stage 1 Symptoms on one side only
Stage 2 Symptoms on both sides without balance impairment
Stage 3 Mild to moderate disease, some postural instability, physically independent
Stage 4 Severe disease, able to walk or stand unassisted
Stage 5 Wheelchair bound or bedridden unless assisted

Clinicians and researchers also use the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) to follow the course of an individual’s disease. The UPDRS uses evaluation of motor symptoms in addition to assessment of non-motor symptoms and patient interviews to determine the effect of Parkinson’s on daily life.

Many patients and physicians find it most useful to think about Parkinson’s in a framework of early/mild, moderate, and advanced/severe relative to how both the motor and non-motor symptoms affect an individual’s life.

As symptoms progress over time they can increase an individual’s risk of serious events, including falls and respiratory distress. The seriousness of these incidents depends greatly on the patient's age, overall health and disease stage.

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