Development of novel clinical examination scales for the measurement of disease severity in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Objective

To use a robust statistical methodology to develop and validate clinical rating scales quantifying longitudinal motor and cognitive dysfunction in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) at the bedside.

Methods

Rasch analysis was used to iteratively construct interval scales measuring composite cognitive and motor dysfunction from pooled bedside neurocognitive examinations collected as part of the prospective National Prion Monitoring Cohort study, October 2008–December 2016.

A longitudinal clinical examination dataset constructed from 528 patients with sCJD, comprising 1030 Motor Scale and 757 Cognitive Scale scores over 130 patient-years of study, was used to demonstrate scale utility.

Results

The Rasch-derived Motor Scale consists of 8 items, including assessments reliant on pyramidal, extrapyramidal and cerebellar systems. The Cognitive Scale comprises 6 items, and includes measures of executive function, language, visual perception and memory. Both scales are unidimensional, perform independently of age or gender and have excellent inter-rater reliability. They can be completed in minutes at the bedside, as part of a normal neurocognitive examination. A composite Examination Scale can be derived by averaging both scores. Several scale uses, in measuring longitudinal change, prognosis and phenotypic heterogeneity are illustrated.

Conclusions

These two novel sCJD Motor and Cognitive Scales and the composite Examination Scale should prove useful to objectively measure phenotypic and clinical change in future clinical trials and for patient stratification. This statistical approach can help to overcome obstacles to assessing clinical change in rapidly progressive, multisystem conditions with limited longitudinal follow-up.

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