Being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s is devastating, but an early diagnosis can help ease the pain and make living with the disease a little bit easier.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association:
“An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s provides a range of benefits for the individuals who are diagnosed” including medical benefits, emotional and social benefits, and potential financial benefits.
While researchers are still working on new ways to diagnose, treat, and even prevent Alzheimer’s, a new study has found a promising way to automatically detect early cognitive impairment in individuals.
The research came from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and looked at 144 people with different levels of cognitive ability. Some participants had dementia while others were completely healthy.
In the study, each participant was given a series of five different drawing tests that measured 22 features of drawing, including pen pressure, pen speed, pen posture, and time spent paused.
The researchers then used a computer-based program to track the drawing traits and see if they could be used to identify people with impaired or normal cognition.
In the end, researchers found the computer program was able to pick out participants with mild cognitive impairment as well as those will Alzheimer’s, and they did it based on the participants’ drawing styles.
“People with lower scores in the cognitive assessment had more variability in their drawing speed, less variability in the angle of their pen, and more time spent paused relative to time spent drawing,” said Professor Arai in a press release.
According to the study, the tests had a 75.2% accuracy when used together. The research could offer a promising way for medical providers to screen for early cognitive impairment to help patients receive quicker medical intervention and planning.