We studied 40 healthy elderly and 31 healthy young volunteers and 25 elderly diabetic and 37 young diabetic patients. All subjects received detailed neurological examinations focusing particularly on sensory symptom and physical evaluations. Standardized assessment of symptoms and physical testing of light touch, pain, vibratory and thermal sensation were performed at the hand, wrist, elbow, foot, ankle and knee. The total symptom score (SS) and the total physical score (PS) were defined by summing test scores at each site. Current perception threshold (CPT) testing using constant current sine wave alternating current was completed at the same anatomical sites. CPT findings did not differ significantly between young and old healthy subjects. Older diabetic patients had higher CPT's than younger diabetic patients, but the severity of clinical diabetic neuropathy was greater in the older group. CPTs correlated with the degree of clinical diabetic neuropathy (r=0.47 with SS and r=0.60 with PS) rather than with age (r=0.12). We conclude that current perception does not decline with age. Nor does ageing by itself worsen CPT values in patients with neuropathy. CPT testing is easily performed, clinically applicable and the first objective sensory measure not affected by the process of ageing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geriatrics and Gerontology