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Portable device quickly detects early Alzheimer's
Date:1/16/2008

ATLANTA (January 16, 2008) The latest medications can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, but none are able to reverse its devastating effects. This limitation often makes early detection the key to Alzheimers patients maintaining a good quality of life for as long as possible.

Now, a new device developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University may allow patients to take a brief, inexpensive test that could be administered as part of a routine yearly checkup at a doctors office to detect mild cognitive impairment (MCI) often the earliest stage of Alzheimers. The device is expected to be commercialized later this year.

Current assessment tests capable of detecting early Alzheimers typically are taken with a pen and paper or at a computer terminal and last about an hour and a half. They must be given by a trained technician in a quiet environment, because any distractions can influence the patients score and reduce the tests effectiveness. Because of their length and expense, the tests are not used as regular screening tools and typically are given only after there is obvious cognitive impairment such as forgetfulness or unsafe behavior.

Families usually wait until their mom or dad does something somewhat dangerous, like forgetting to take their medications or getting lost, before bringing them in for testing. At that point, the patient has already lost a significant portion of their cognitive function, said David Wright, MD, who helped develop the device. Wright is assistant professor of emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and co-director of the Emory Emergency Medicine Research Center. With this device, we might be able to pick up impairment well before those serious symptoms occur and start patients on medications that could delay those symptoms.

The Georgia Tech and Emory device, called DETECT, gives individuals a roughly ten-minute test designed to gauge reaction time and m
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Contact: Megan McRainey
megan.mcrainey@comm.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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