Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brief exam diagnoses cognitive impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients

Date:
June 22, 2011
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) could lose brain function earlier than is noticeably detectable, affecting their ability to make decisions about their care. Physicians need a method to assess these sensitive changes in brain function, without the need for extensive neuropsychological tests.

Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) could lose brain function earlier than is noticeably detectable, affecting their ability to make decisions about their care. Physicians need a method to assess these sensitive changes in brain function, without the need for extensive neuropsychological tests.

Penn State College of Medicine researchers created a brief exam that identifies frontotemporal disease (FTD) deficits in judgment and problem-solving in ALS patients. FTD is a decline in function and behaviors associated with the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. As the disease progresses, it effects higher-level language processing, attention span, and reasoning, with indirect effect to memory. The disease is often found in ALS patients.

"Cognitive changes in ALS patients can have a major impact on management of the disease, due in part to the various patterns of behavioral changes that arise," said Claire Flaherty-Craig, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Neurology. "Dysfunction could provide a significant obstacle when it comes time to make important end-of-life decisions, such as placement of feeding tubes, use of a ventilator, and clarification of advance directives. It has been shown that patients with ALS and FTD have a poorer prognosis than those with ALS alone."

The Penn State Brief Exam of Frontal and Temporal Dysfunction Syndromes (PSFTS) was developed for the multi-disciplinary ALS clinic at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to identify patients with frontal dysfunction and was refined to differentiate three subtypes of FTD. The exam has been used in more than 200 patients and is now standard of care at the Medical Center.

Researchers published their findings on the PSFTS in the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.

Thirty-eight patients completed both the brief exam and a comprehensive neuropsychological exam. From this, thirteen ALS patients not showing any deficiencies on the brief exam were identified as the ALS control group. Twenty-five patients were identified as deficient in at least one measure of the brief exam and identified as the ALS-Ci -- cognitively-impaired -- group. The researchers also had a group of 18 healthy volunteers.

The PSFTS requires 15 to 20 minutes to complete, with 20 minutes for assessment in the clinic. Measures chosen were those considered sensitive to frontal and temporal dysfunction, relevant to decision-making and problem-solving and relevant to patient involvement in ALS treatment planning.

"The ability to identify emerging difficulties with decision making and problem solving in the ALS clinic remains of vital importance to optimal treatment planning from the time of diagnosis to the terminal stage of the disease process," said Flaherty-Craig. "The PSFTS represents an approach to detection of the effect of the behavioral change upon complex cognitive processes in the very early stage, when behavioral changes may be too subtle to be of concern to patients and loved ones. The exam may serve as a practical approach to evaluation and monitoring the progression of cognitive change in the emergence of FTD and throughout the course of the neurodegenerative disease process."

Other researchers on this study were Allyson Brothers, M.A.; Chengwu Yang, M.D.; Ph.D.; Ryan Svoboda, B.S.; and Zachary Simmons, M.D, all at Penn State College of Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health's General Clinical Research Center grant and GCRC Construction Grant partially funded this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Claire V. Flaherty-Craig, Allyson Brothers, Chengwu Yang, Ryan Svoboda, Zachary Simmons. Declines in Problem Solving and Anosognosia in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 2011; 24 (1): 26 DOI: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e3182138454

Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Brief exam diagnoses cognitive impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622102822.htm>.
Penn State. (2011, June 22). Brief exam diagnoses cognitive impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622102822.htm
Penn State. "Brief exam diagnoses cognitive impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110622102822.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contagious Respiratory Illness Continues to Spread Across U.S.

Contagious Respiratory Illness Continues to Spread Across U.S.

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 12, 2014) Hundreds of children in several states have been stricken by a serious respiratory illness that is spreading across the U.S. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Batters Sierra Leone Economy Too

Ebola Batters Sierra Leone Economy Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 12, 2014) The World Health Organisation warns that local health workers in West Africa can't keep up with Ebola - and among those countries hardest hit by the outbreak, the economic damage is coming into focus, too. As David Pollard reports, Sierra Leone admits that growth in one of the poorest economies in the region is taking a beating. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Care Workers 'Chasing' Ebola Outbreak

Health Care Workers 'Chasing' Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Sep. 12, 2014) The worst known Ebola outbreak is proving extremely difficult to contain. Hospitals are full, and victims of the virus are suffering in the streets. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins