Diagnostics of Dementia
Dementia is relatively easy to diagnose as the disease manifests with a range of characteristic symptoms in the patient’s behavior and appearance. Some tests and exams are additionally required to make a precise diagnosis.
Dementia results in memory loss which is determined over the course of neuropsychological tests. One of the most widely employed tests is called MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination) and takes 15 minutes to perform. Supplementary tests are run along MMSE to screen for early dementia and depression. There are some tests available for rapid diagnosis of dementia. Information provided by friends and family of dementia-afflicted patients may significantly speed up the diagnosis of brain disorders.
A number of other diagnostic procedures are available to determine the cause of dementia. Basic diagnostics include a physical exam, blood work, and a variety of electrophysiological and visual procedures (electrocardiography, computer tomography, and MRI).
Additional specialized diagnostic tests may be conducted to confirm or rule out potential causes. These tests include genetic analysis, SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), or lumbar puncture. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which is diagnosed by elimination of all other possible causes.
Dementia may be defined as a number of conditions negatively afflicting cerebral functions, and it is on this basis that neuropsychology operates. Neuropsychological diagnostics allows for differential testing of various cognitive functions, providing an insight into various workings and disorders of the brain irrespective of each other.
Establishing an objective diagnosis of dementia requires extensive neuropsychological research that defines the necessary criteria for such a diagnosis. Differential data about cognitive impairment and retained functions obtained through this research lets us determine the rate at which the disease progresses. Using this information we may recommend optimal psychosocial therapy and duly consult family and friends of the dementia-afflicted patient.
Detailed neuropsychological research allows making a definite conclusion as to the type of dementia and the difference between actual dementia and pseudodementia that may result from a depressive disorder.