Objective: The goal of this study was to assess neurological soft signs and developmental reflexes in schizophrenic patients who had never received neuroleptic medication and those who were receiving neuroleptic medication.
Method: Neurological soft signs and developmental reflexes were examined in 26 schizophrenic patients who had never received a neuroleptic, 126 schizophrenic patients who were currently receiving neuroleptics, and 117 normal subjects.
Results: Soft signs were present in 23% of the neuroleptic-naive and 46% of the medicated schizophrenic patients. Developmental reflexes were present in 19% of the neuroleptic-naive and 12% of the medicated patients. Both soft signs and developmental reflexes were absent in the normal subjects. There were significant differences between patients and normal subjects in neurological soft signs and developmental reflexes. The possibly confounding variables of age, age at onset, duration of illness, number of hospitalizations, Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) scores, and Simpson-Angus Scale extrapyramidal symptom scores were assessed by using logistic regression in the patients who were receiving neuroleptics. AIMS scores and Simpson-Angus Scale scores correlated with soft signs in these patients.
Conclusions: The presence of neurological soft signs in schizophrenic patients who had never received neuroleptics indicates that these signs are present independent of medication effects, but it is possible that neuroleptics contribute to the prevalence of these abnormalities, as demonstrated by the patients who were receiving neuroleptics.