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Bike-Riding Ability May Distinguish 'Atypical' Parkinson's

THURSDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The ability to ride a bicycle can determine whether a patient has atypical or "regular" Parkinson's disease, according to researchers in the Netherlands.

Dr. Bastiaan R. Bloem and colleagues used brain imaging and other tests to assess 45 patients with Parkinson's disease and 66 with atypical Parkinsonism. The patients were also asked if they could still ride a bicycle. Only two (4 percent) of those with regular Parkinson's said they could no longer ride, compared with 34 (52 percent) of those with atypical Parkinsonism.

The researchers found that asking patients if they could still ride a bike had better diagnostic value than the tests. This suggests that asking about bike-riding could save money and reduce the burden for patients, said the researchers at the Parkinson Center Nijmegen.

The research is described in a letter published in the Jan. 7 issue of The Lancet.

"Cycling requires a highly coordinated interplay between balance, coordination, and rhythmic pedaling of the legs," they wrote in a journal news release. "This skilled task is probably sensitive to subtle problems with balance or coordination, caused by the more extensive extranigral pathology in atypical Parkinsonism. Simply asking about cycling abilities could be added to the list of red flags that can assist clinicians in their early differential diagnosis of Parkinsonism."

More information

We Move has more about Parkinson's disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Jan. 6, 2011

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