To develop a reliable rating scale to assess functional capacity in children with familial dysautonomia, evaluate changes over time and determine whether severity within a particular functional category at a young age affected survival.
Ten functional categories were retrospectively assessed in 123 patients with familial dysautonomia at age 7 years ± 6 months. Each of the ten Functional Severity Scale (FuSS) categories (motor development, cognitive ability, psychological status, expressive speech, balance, oral coordination, frequency of dysautonomic crisis, respiratory, cardiovascular and nutritional status) was scored from 1 (worst or severely affected) to 5 (best or no impairment). Changes over time were analyzed further in 22 of the 123 patients who were also available at ages 17 and 27 years.
Severely impaired cardiovascular function and high frequency of dysautonomic crisis negatively affected survival (p<0.005 and p<0.001, respectively). In the 22 individuals followed up to age 27 years, psychological status significantly worsened (p=0.01), and expressive speech improved (p=0.045). From age 17 to 27 years, balance worsened markedly (p =0.048).
The FuSS scale is a reliable tool to measure functional capacity in patients with familial dysautonomia. The scale may prove useful in providing prognosis and as a complementary endpoint in clinical trials.