Disexecutive functions and depression in patients with Parkinson disease: the impact on rehabilitation outcome

Antonia Pierobon, Anna Giardini, Roberto Maestri, Cristiano Farina, Simona Callegari, Valeria Torlaschi, Gabriella Bertotti, Giuseppina Majani, Giuseppe Frazzitta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Studies relating to patients with Parkinson disease that assess neuropsychologic, psychologic, and clinical aspects are very uncommon.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of executive functioning (impaired vs. not impaired) or depression (depressed vs. nondepressed) on the outcome of rehabilitation treatment in patients with Parkinson disease without dementia at the medium stage of disease.

METHODS: Forty consecutive inpatients affected by Parkinson disease were psychologically and neuropsychologically assessed by means of standardized tests during the first week of admission and at discharge after undergoing an intensive rehabilitation training.

RESULTS: At baseline, the patients (mean [SD] age, 70.1 [8.0]; Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE], ≥24) showed impairment in the following executive functions: frontal functions (32.5%), selective and divided attention (55.0% and 41.9%, respectively), and word fluency (17.5%). Depressive symptoms reported using the Geriatric Depression Scale were distributed as follows: mild (n = 13), 32.5%; moderate (n = 4), 10.0%; and severe (n = 5), 12.5%. As for the outcome of the intensive rehabilitation treatment, a general improvement in the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, the Berg's scale, the 6-min walking test, and the Timed Up and Go test was observed (P <0.0001). The improvement was homogeneous for all groupings of the patients for all of the considered variables, indicating that the changes in performance as a result of treatment were unaffected by the presence of executive function deficits or moderate-to-severe depression.

CONCLUSIONS: The patients' executive function impairment or moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms did not seem to interfere with the outcome of the intensive physical and occupational rehabilitation. Therefore, these aspects in patients without dementia should not be considered a contraindication to an intensive rehabilitation program. Furthermore, despite the presence of impaired executive functions and/or of depressive symptoms, the 4-wk multidisciplinary rehabilitation program resulted to be highly effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-773
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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