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Knowing that something has affected your loved one’s mental wellness is one thing, but getting it diagnosed is a completely different matter. It is notoriously difficult to reach a dementia diagnosis, with your loved one spending months, and even years, going through doctors visits, hospital visits, blood tests, scans and more often than not, a great deal of frustration and heartbreak, which can take its toll on the whole family’s wellbeing. However, GPs across England are ushering in a new era of mental health, in which a new IPAD computer programme could speed up diagnosis.
Dementia affects more than 800,000 people in the UK, and that figure is expected to grow to one million by 2021. Therefore, the need for better, more accurate and faster diagnosis has never been greater and so the £3.3 million IPAD project, 60% of which has been funded by the Department of Health, is also being used in combination with new trials. Researchers at a new Brain Health Centre in Sussex, and another at the Maudsley Hospital in south London, are using a new diagnostic programme attached to existing MRI scanners in order to determine what type of dementia a patient might have.
Cambridge Cognition is the company responsible for developing the new IPAD test, which is a 10-minute test evaluating your loved one’s emotional state, memory and ability with day to day tasks. Not only does the test adjust for age, education and gender, it also issues an automatic report on whether your loved one will need further investigation, if their wellness is affected by something else – such as depression – and if they are having trouble with daily tasks and could benefit from immediate social care or home help.
Another bonus of the report is that it could enable your loved one’s doctor to reassure you that nothing is wrong, at least for the moment. According to Dr Jonathan Inglesfield, from Cranleigh Medical Practice in Surrey where the new programme is being tested, of the 15-20 patients he has seen and screened since last September, two-thirds were fine. He explained, ‘That is important. We haven’t had the tools to reassure patients before.’