Early diagnosis poses one of the biggest obstacles to treating Alzheimer’s disease, but a Food and Drug Administration decision in June 2015 has made it easier. The FDA approved a computer-based, non-invasive tool that assesses cognitive decline in its earliest stages and can be administered by a patient’s primary care physician.
How It Works
Developed by Dr. Charles J. Duffy at the University of Rochester Medical Center, the Cognivue device acts like a video game to measure and monitor brain function. According to the Washington Post, during the 10-minute test, patients sit at a video monitor and use a steering-wheel-shaped device called a manipulandum to follow a series of dots. This detects perceptual ability. The evaluation also includes memory recall tasks and tests the ability to recognize letters and shapes.
The Cognivue detects subtle lapses in brain function and provides the physician with a number to quantify how efficiently the patient’s brain is working, according to the Rochester Business Journal. Comparisons between the Cognivue device and the existing St. Louis University Mental Status Examination and the Mini Mental State Exam showed positive results.
New Classification by the FDA
Cerebral Assessment Systems, the company Duffy founded to market the device, received approval from the FDA under a new class of medical devices called cognitive assessment aids. The approval allows the company to begin large-scale production and marketing. BioSpace reports that Cognivue provides an affordable, accurate and widely accessible assessment. The device is not intended as a stand-alone diagnostic tool but as part of a more comprehensive evaluation.
The Importance of Early Diagnosis
Cognivue does not specifically diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, but when used in conjunction with other diagnostic tools, it can result in an earlier diagnosis. Early intervention with medication has the greatest chance of slowing or arresting the progress of the disease, according to the Rochester Business Journal. Researchers can also benefit from a reliable means of measuring cognitive decline as they conduct clinical trials to evaluate treatments. If you are concerned about cognitive function, ask your doctor about what assessment options are available to you.
Having an affordable, reliable tool that evaluates cognitive function in a 10-minute test administered in a doctor’s office can have a real impact on the Alzheimer’s crisis facing Americans. It is estimated that 13.5 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by 2050, and until a cure is found, early detection and intervention is essential.
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