Department of Neurology, Kumamoto City Hospital, Kumamoto 862-8505, Japan; Department of Neurology, National Hospital Organization, Kumamoto-minami National Hospital, Uki, Kumamoto 869-0593, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]
In April of 2016, major earthquakes occurred in Kumamoto, Japan. There is limited information on how major earthquakes affect patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). This study investigates the effect of major earthquakes on patients with PD. The participants were outpatients with PD from hospitals located in areas heavily damaged by the earthquakes. We performed an anonymous survey at nine medical institutions to investigate the condition of these patients during the month following the earthquakes. We collected questionnaires from 335 patients with PD. The mean age was 72.6, and the mean disease duration was 7.4 years. Regarding physical conditions, 29.3% of the patients worsened, 1.5% improved, and 68.1% had no change. The mental health of 35.2% of the patients worsened, 2.4% improved, and 57.9% had no change. The most frequently exacerbated neurologic symptoms included bradykinesia (56.1%), gait disturbance (51.0%), freezing of gait (40.8%), extension of "off" time (38.8%), and constipation (38.8%). The worsening mental conditions included fear of an aftershock (77.1%), anxiety (49.2%), insomnia (47.5%), melancholy feelings (45.8%), and fatigability (38.1%). Patients forced to evacuate reported significantly more physical and mental health symptoms (p < 0.01). The influences of major earthquakes on patients with PD were identified. After major earthquakes, we should consider the care required for patients' physical and mental health especially for those who experienced evacuation.