Dutch doctors see ability to cycle as key when testing for the disease

Bike riding offers clue to Parkinson’s?

Bicycle riding may be valuable in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s patients, according to doctors from the Netherlands (as reported in The Daily Telegraph).

According to doctors writing to The Lancet medical journal, those with standard Parkinson’s were more likely to still be able to ride a bike than those with atypical Parkinson’s, which requires a different form of treatment.

The group said that the ability to ride a bike could be, potentially, more effective than current expensive tests.

The letter read: “We suggest that the answer to one simple question—‘Can you still ride a bicycle?’—offers good diagnostic value for separating Parkinson’s disease from atypical parkinsonism.”

“Cycling requires a highly co-ordinated interplay between balance, co-ordination, and rhythmic pedalling of the legs.

"This skilled task is probably sensitive to subtle problems with balance or co-ordination, 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.”

The group from Parkinson Centre Nijmegen, Netherlands includes Drs Marjolein Aerts, Wilson Abdo, and Prof Bastiaan Bloem, of the Department of Neurology.

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