Affiliations: [a] Department of Neurology, University of Rochester, NY, USA
| [b] Grey Matter Technologies, Inc., Longboat Key, FL, USA
| [c] Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, University of Rochester, NY, USA
Correspondence to: Ira Shoulson MD, Suite 105, 5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, FL, 34228, USA. E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: Background:The Parkinson’s Disease Patient Report of Problems (PD-PROP) captures the problems and functional impact that patients report verbatim. Online research participation and advances in language analysis have enabled longitudinal collection and classification of symptoms as trial outcomes. Objective:Analyze verbatim reports longitudinally to examine postural-instability symptoms as 1) precursors of subsequent falling and 2) newly occurring symptoms that could serve as outcome measures in randomized controlled trials. Methods:Problems reported by >25,000 PD patients in their own words were collected online in the Fox Insight observational study and classified into symptoms by natural language processing, clinical curation, and machine learning. Symptoms of gait, balance, falling, and freezing and associated reports of having fallen in the last month were analyzed over three years of longitudinal observation by a Cox regression model in a cohort of 8,287 participants. New onset of gait, balance, falling, and freezing symptoms was analyzed by Kaplan-Meier survival techniques in 4,119 participants who had not previously reported these symptoms. Results:Classified verbatim symptoms of postural instability were significant precursors of subsequent falling among participants who were older, female, and had longer PD duration. New onset of symptoms steadily increased and informed sample size estimates for clinical trials to reduce the onset of these symptoms. Conclusion:The tools to analyze symptoms reported by PD patients in their own words and capacity to enroll large numbers of research participants online support the feasibility and statistical power for conducting randomized clinical trials to detect effects of therapeutic interventions.