We examined the gold standard for Huntington disease (HD) functional assessment, the Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale (UHDRS), in a group of at-risk participants not yet diagnosed but who later phenoconverted to manifest HD. We also sought to determine which skill domains first weaken and the clinical correlates of declines. Using the UHDRS Total Functional Capacity (TFC) and Functional Assessment Scale (FAS), we examined participants from Huntington Study Group clinics who were not diagnosed at their baseline visit but were diagnosed at a later visit (N=265). Occupational decline was the most common with 65.1% (TFC) and 55.6% (FAS) reporting some loss of ability to engage in their typical work. Inability to manage finances independently (TFC 49.2%, FAS 35.1%) and drive safely (FAS 33.5%) were also found. Functional decline was significantly predicted by motor, cognitive, and depressive symptoms. The UHDRS captured early functional losses in individuals with HD prior to formal diagnosis, however, fruitful areas for expanded assessment of early functional changes are performance at work, ability to manage finances, and driving. These are also important areas for clinical monitoring and treatment planning as up to 65% experienced loss in at least one area prior to diagnosis.
Copyright 2010. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.