Dementia, the lost times
Dementia is one of the most difficult challenges in modern neuroscience. It still can’t be cured, and the vast majority of new drug trials have ended in failure. In fact, no new drugs have been approved for the treatment of dementia in well over a decade. Researchers conclude that while much more effective treatments may become available in the near future, the current best course of action in dealing with dementia is to identify and begin treating its symptoms as early as possible.
This is easier said than done however, given that dementia is still not fully understood, and its range of risk factors vary from genetics to lifestyle choices and even past injuries. In this post, we go over the current cutting-edge techniques used to diagnose and treat dementia.
Testing & Complications in Diagnosing Dementia The criteria for a dementia diagnosis is that two or more basic mental functions are sufficiently impaired so as to complicate a patient’s daily life. Some of these are:
· Language & Communications Skills
· Ability to Focus
· Ability to Pay Attention
· Problem Solving
· Ability to Reason
Even then, accurately determining the type of dementia can be challenging. For this reason, dementia has been notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat early. The current standard battery of tests to identify and diagnose dementia are:
Psychiatric Evaluation This is obviously the most sensible first step. A qualified medical professional is usually able to ascertain within a few sessions whether or not a patient suffers from any psychiatric disorders that might contribute to or exacerbate symptoms of dementia. This can include depression, recent traumas or even alcoholism. Neurological & Cognitive Testing Doctors begin with a series of tests, known formally as a cognitive screening, to gauge a patient’s core mental functioning ability. Then a series of brain scans (most commonly CT, MRI and PET scans) are performed to assess brain activity patterns, as well as check for evidence of bleeding, a tumour or stroke. Laboratory Testing Finally, cerebrospinal fluid (commonly known as CSF or simply spinal fluid) is checked for evidence of inflammation, infection or indicators of other degenerative diseases. Blood samples can also be checked for signs of vitamin deficiencies or thyroid issues, both of which have adverse effects on healthy brain function.