New test for dementia

Australian and New Zealand researchers have developed a test to identify whether someone with Parkinson’s disease is also experiencing the early stages of dementia.

Doctors will soon be able to use a new test to identify whether a person with Parkinson’s disease (PD) will also develop dementia at a later stage in life.

Researchers at Monash University, in collaboration with the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, are currently developing a test to accurately diagnose PD patients who have cognitive problems indicative of preclinical dementia.

The test, to be administered by health professionals, aims to improve the quality of life of the 40 per cent of PD patients who develop dementia, by detecting the disease in its early stages.

Principal investigator, Dr Audrey McKinlay from Monash’s School of Psychology and Psychiatry, said treating a PD patient before clear symptoms of dementia arise could also reduce health care costs and alleviate the burden on caregivers.

“The 20-minute testing process would allow health practitioners to identify distinct characteristics, including memory loss, associated with the earliest, or preclinical, stages of dementia in PD patients,” Dr McKinlay said.

“Identifying patients likely to develop dementia is important in early intervention where support can be provided to delay, or help patients to manage, the cognitive decline associated with dementia.

“Early intervention would reduce health care costs associated with home care, and importantly ensures individuals with PD and their families can get the most out of life.”

The research trial saw PD patients with no evidence of dementia examined over a seven-year period. The test was able to correctly identify individuals in the preclinical stages of dementia with over 90 per cent accuracy.

Currently, there is no universally accepted set of tests for detecting cognitive problems that may develop into dementia in PD patients.

PD is a progressive, degenerative neurological condition that affects one in 100 Australians over the age of 60 and is known for its effect on the control of body movements.

Researchers have recently begun to identify cognitive and psychiatric issues and assess the effects on quality of life for the patient and their caregivers.

Dr McKinlay said she hopes that following this current research, an inexpensive and non-invasive testing program will be implemented by health professionals in the future.

Tags: audrey-mckinlay, dementia, monash-university, parkinson, parkinsons, pd, school-of-psychology-and-psychiatry, university-of-canterbury,

1 thought on “New test for dementia

  1. Is this research investigating the relationship between Lewy Body Disease and Parkinsons and the need for early diagnosis of Lewy Body Disease?

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