Prognosis of Parkinsons’ Disease

The average life expectancy of a person with PD is generally the same as for people who do not have the disease.  Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for people with PD. However, in the late stages, PD may no longer respond to medications and can become associated with serious complications such as choking, pneumonia, and falls.   

PD is a slowly progressive disorder.  It is not possible to predict what course the disease will take for an individual person.  One commonly used scale neurologists use for describing how the symptoms of PD have progressed in a patient is the Hoehn and Yahr scale.

Hoehn and Yahr Staging of Parkinson's Disease

  • Stage one -- symptoms on one side of the body only.
  • Stage two -- symptoms on both sides of the body.  No impairment of balance.
  • Stage three -- balance impairment.  Mild to moderate disease.  Physically independent.
  • Stage four -- severe disability, but still able to walk or stand unassisted.
  • Stage five – wheelchair-bound or bedridden unless assisted.

Another commonly used scale is the Movement Disorders Society-Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS).  This four-part scale measures motor movement in PD: non-motor experiences of daily living, motor experiences of daily living, motor examination, and motor complications.  Both the Hoehn and Yahr scale and the MDS-UPDRS are used to describe how individuals are faring and to help assess treatment response.


Reference: National Institute of Neurologocial Diseases and Stroke

Last updated May 4, 2017

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

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