Progression of Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is often measured using neurological rating scales such as the Friedreich Ataxia Rating Scale (FARS). Performance scales comprising functional measures have been used in other conditions due to their increased sensitivity and reproducibility and may replace examination-based measures. The aims of this study were to examine the relationship between the Friedreich Ataxia Functional Composite (FAFC) measures and characteristics of FRDA to determine if the FAFC is more sensitive to clinical change over time compared to its components. One hundred and twenty-two individuals completed the timed 25-foot walk (T25FW), 9-Hole Peg Test (9HPT) and the low-contrast letter acuity (LCLA) test at baseline, 63 at year 1, 34 at year 2 and 25 at year 3. Composite scores, Z2 (T25FW and 9HPT) and Z3 (T25FW, 9HPT and LCLA) were created. Correlation analyses were conducted. Change in FAFC components were examined over 1, 2, and 3 years. The FARS, Z2, Z3 and 9HPT showed significant change over all time points compared to baseline. The T25FW only demonstrated significant change over 3 years. The LCLA demonstrated no significant change over any of the time points. The FAFC shows significant change over time and indicates disease progression, however, this may result from individual components driving the differences. The LCLA showed no change over time, rendering Z3 redundant. The FAFC is of limited value in cohorts with non-ambulant individuals as it leads to skewing of the dataset and is better suited to less affected populations.
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