Specialized Versus Generic Allied Health Therapy and the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease Complications

Mov Disord. 2022 Nov 24. doi: 10.1002/mds.29274. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Specialized versus generic physiotherapy (PT) reduces Parkinson’s disease (PD)-related complications. It is unclear (1) whether other specialized allied heath disciplines, including occupational therapy (OT) and speech and language therapy (S&LT), also reduce complications; (2) whether there is a synergistic effect among multiple specialized disciplines; and (3) whether each allied health discipline prevents specific complications.

OBJECTIVES: To longitudinally assessed whether the level of expertise (specialized vs. generic training) of PT, OT, and S&LT was associated with the incidence rate of PD-related complications.

METHODS: We used claims data of all insured persons with PD in the Netherlands between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2018. ParkinsonNet-trained therapists were classified as specialized, and other therapists as generic. We used mixed-effects Poisson regression models to estimate rate ratios adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.

RESULTS: The population of 51,464 persons with PD (mean age, 72.4 years; standard deviation 9.8) sustained 10,525 PD-related complications during follow-up (median 3.3 years). Specialized PT was associated with fewer complications (incidence rate ratio [IRR] of specialized versus generic = 0.79; 95% confidence interval, [0.74-0.83]; P < 0.0001), as was specialized OT (IRR = 0.88 [0.77-0.99]; P = 0.03). We found a trend of an association between specialized S&LT and a lower rate of PD-related complications (IRR = 0.88 [0.74-1.04]; P = 0.18). The inverse association of specialized OT persisted in the stratum, which also received specialized PT (IRR = 0.62 [0.42-0.90]; P = 0.001). The strongest inverse association of PT was seen with orthopedic injuries (IRR = 0.78 [0.73-0.82]; P < 0.0001) and of S&LT with pneumonia (IRR = 0.70 [0.53-0.93]; P = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings support a wider introduction of specialized allied health therapy expertise in PD care and conceivably for other medical conditions. © 2022 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

PMID:36424819 | DOI:10.1002/mds.29274

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