7 Healthcast: Alzheimer's detection
Scientists say they've developed a way to detect whether you're at risk of getting what's known as mild cognitive impairment. MCI is a transition stage between when the brain ages normally and when a person develops alzheimer's disease.
More than 5-million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and that number continues to grow.
"This is a very significant problem. The population is aging, and it's only going to grow," said Dr.David Wright from Emory University.
Scientists use a device called 'Detect'. It employs virtual images and sounds in a helmet. A patient's memory and cognitive skills are challenged and their answers recorded through a controller. Emory University researchers say the test is quick, portable, and provides consistent data to track memory loss.
"The earlier the diagnoses, the earlier the treatment, the better quality of life and the longer they can live independently," said Dr.Wright.
Dr. Wright says if you catch and treat MCI early you can delay symptoms up to three years.
"When you have a family member with Alzheimer's disease, having them be independent and you can leave and go to work and not worry about them for two months is important, much less three years," said Dr.Wright.
There is no known cure for Alzheimer's, but symptoms can sometimes be off-set through brain exercises and medication. Researchers are hoping to get the 'Detect' system into doctors' offices as early as this fall.(Copyright 2008 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)