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Lewy Body Dementia 3-Minute Test Helps Diagnose The Rare Disease

Lewy Body dementia (LBD) is the second-most-common degenerative disease following Alzheimer’s–affecting over 1.3 million Americans. Patients suffering from the health issue typically suffer from loss of mobility, cognitive function and other issues. In fact, you’ve probably seen the topic in the news lately as the late Robin Williams was diagnosed with this form of dementia before taking his own life.

Now, researchers at Florida Atlantic University have developed a new test that works to diagnose both LBD and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) in about three minutes, researchers say–known as the “Lewy Body Composite Risk Score” (LBCRS). The test uses a brief rating scale that’s completed by a clinician to assess clinical warning symptoms associated with the disease, ranging from postural instability to bradykinesia and resting tremors.

Researchers recently examined the test in the study, “Improving the Clinical Detection of Lewy Body Dementia with the Lewy Body Composite Risk Score,” which involved 256 patients who were compared with the clinical dementia rating and gold standard measures of cognition, motor symptoms, function and behavior, according to a news release.

The researchers administered the test in a “real-world” clinic setting with a clinic sample of varying genders, educational backgrounds and cognition, motor symptoms, function and behavior.

During the study, caregivers were asked to complete evaluations that determine the presence of severity of cognitive symptoms observed in the patient and how this impacted the caregiver. Patients were administered a 30-minute test battery at the time of the office visit to assess their cognitive status. The LBCRS was completed after all other rating scales were scored and the diagnosis was presented to the patient and family, according to the study authors.

The study results revealed that the LBCRS was able to differentiate between Alzheimer’s and LBD with a 96.8 percent accuracy and with a 90 percent sensitivity and an 87 percent specificity, researchers say.

Furthermore, what makes the new testing more important from previous types is also the sensitivity of diagnosis–reducing the risk of exposure to patients with LBD to medications with potentially adverse consequences.

The study is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, a journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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