Falls risk is predictive of dysphagia in Parkinson's disease

Neurol Sci. 2022 Feb;43(2):1415-1417. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05700-6. Epub 2021 Nov 3.


Objective: Evaluate the relationship between falls, freezing of gait, and swallowing disturbance in Parkinson's disease (PD).

Background: Dysphagia is a common symptom in PD, and is often thought of as an axial feature along with falls and gait disturbance. It is of interest to examine the relationship between these symptoms in PD, given the possibility of shared pathophysiology due to non-dopaminergic and extranigral dysfunction.

Methods: We recruited 29 consecutive non-demented patients with idiopathic PD and at least one clinically determined impairment in swallowing, falls, or freezing of gait. Swallow dysfunction was assessed using the Swallowing Disturbance Questionnaire (SDQ). The Falls Efficacy Scale and Freezing-of-gait questionnaire were recorded. Correlation analysis and multiple regression were used to determine the relationship between swallow and gait disturbance.

Results: Total SDQ score correlated strongly with the falls efficacy scale (Spearman's rho = 0.594; P = 0.001), but not with the freezing-of-gait score. Linear regression controlling for other factors associated with dysphagia identified falls efficacy score as a significant predictor of swallow dysfunction.

Conclusions: The severity of dysphagia in PD is closely related to severity of falls, but not gait freezing. This may be helpful to more precisely determine the anatomical substrate of levodopa-resistant axial symptoms in PD and provide clues to further management.

Keywords: Dysphagia; Falls; Parkinson’s disease.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Deglutition Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Deglutition Disorders* / etiology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic* / diagnosis
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic* / epidemiology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Levodopa
  • Parkinson Disease* / complications
  • Parkinson Disease* / epidemiology


  • Levodopa