Although 1.3 million Americans suffer from Lewy body dementia, it is still hard to recognize, which can delay diagnosis and treatment. Researchers have found a three-minute test that may be successful in diagnosing Lewy body dementia and speeding up treatment.
Lewy body dementia is characterized by a decline in cognitive function, mobility and changes in behavior. Until now it has not been possible to assess and operationalize many of the cognitive and behavioral symptoms that are part of Lewy body dementia within a clinical setting.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University have come up with what they call, “Lewy Body Composite Risk Score” (LBCRS). This test is able to successfully diagnose Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia within three-minutes. LBCRS is a rating scale that can be completed in a clinic and rates signs and symptoms associated with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease. A clinician rates bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability, or rest tremor without having to grade each extremity. The one-page survey consists of yes/no questions for six non-motor features commonly found in Lewy body dementia.
To test the effectiveness of LBCRS, researchers involved 256 patients “who were compared with the clinical dementia rating and gold standard measures of cognition, motor symptoms, function and behavior.” The LBCRS was able to distinguish between Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia with an accuracy of 96.8 percent and provided sensitivity of 90 percent and a specificity of 87 percent.
Caregivers evaluated the presence and severity of non-cognitive symptoms observed in the patient and their impact on the caregiver. LBCRS was completed after all other rating tests were completed then diagnosis was given to the family and patient.
Developer of LBCRS, Dr. James E. Galvin, said, “Most patients never receive an evaluation by a neurologist skilled in the diagnosis of Lewy body dementia, and significant delays and misdiagnoses occur in most patients with this disease. This new tool has the potential to provide a clearer, more accurate picture for those patients who are unable to be seen by specialists, hastening the correct diagnosis and reducing the strain and burden placed on patients and caregivers.”
Galvin added, “Early detection of Lewy body dementias will be important to enable future interventions at the earliest stages when they are likely to be most effective. Our study provides evidence-based methodology that will have applications in clinical practice, participation in clinical trials, prevention studies, community surveys, and biomarkers research.”
Galvin also contributed to the development of the Quick Dementia Ratings System (QDRS) and his research team has developed transitional points in clinical, cognitive, functional, behavioral and biological markers of disease in healthy aging, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
The findings were published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.