Quick Dementia Rating System: Cheap And Fast Diagnostic Method For Dementia

Malika Ammam, PhD avatar

by Malika Ammam, PhD |

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Dementia can be defined as a disease which affects the brain’s ability to go through a clear process of thinking, reasoning and remembering. The disease can affect several parts of the brain and patients with dementia may face difficulties dealing with language, memory loss, impaired visual-spatial orientation, loss of problem solving skills and lack of attention.

Although, dementia may come in various forms such as vascular, lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia, the most common form is Alzheimer’s disease, which makes up to 70% of patients. It is worth noting that symptoms differ from one dementia to another and it is not uncommon for a patient to have two types of dementia at the same time.

Recently, a research team at the Florida Atlantic University suggested a new diagnostic method, which takes only three to five minutes to determine weather a subject suffers from dementia. They called the method Quick Dementia Rating System (QDRS), and bases itself on scientific methodology, evidence, validity and reliability to separate patients with and without dementia. The strength of this new methodology lies in detecting various forms of dementia in a short period of time. Methodologically, QDRS consists of a 10-item questionnaire that is graded from 0 to 30, designed to capture symptoms of the different types of dementia. Higher scores represent patients with severe dementia. In the study, a total of 267 subjects participated including 32 healthy controls, with the results proving satisfactory.

It is unfortunate to say that dementia affects an average of 36 million people. It is known that the disease develops in progressive stages and usually becomes more serious with age. In early stages of dementia, signs and symptoms of the disease maybe unnoticeable and become more and more visible as the disease progresses. There are four stages of dementia: mild, early, middle and late stage. While patients with mild dementia show no particular noticeable symptoms, patients with late-stage dementia typically require full time assistance.

Although no cure has been yet developed for treating the condition, several prevention measures have been suggested including lifestyle changes, cognitive training and medication. On the other hand, it is obvious that detecting dementia at an early stage of development will allow a better management of the disease. Hence, it is important to access quick and cheap diagnostic tools. Several methods are currently employed for the diagnostic of dementia including cognitive testing, laboratory tests and imaging. These methods are usually complex, expensive and time consuming.

The novel Quick Dementia Rating System (QDRS) looks promising as a new cheap, fast and reliable diagnostic method of dementia disease. As the method is currently under optimization, it is worth to extend the study to a large number of patients, compare the results with those obtained by standard diagnostic methods and follow up with statistical modeling.