A group of doctors in Pittsburgh have developed the Computer Assessment of Mild Cognitive Impairment (CAMCI) to identify cognitive difficulties easily and reliably.
In an article in the March issue of Postgraduate Medicine entitled "Computer Assessment of Mild Cognitive Impairment," the program creators detail the procedures and the benefits of the new test, which they claim is sensitive enough to notice the smallest amount of forgetfulness. By conducting a controlled study with 524 people >60 years old, they were able to demonstrate the ease and effectiveness of the testing system.
The program, which uses a variety of tests that analyze everything from attention and verbal memory to incidental recall and executive function, was administered in primary care physician's offices, a local community center, and in the subjects' homes. The doctors believe this is a testament to the ease of the program: it can be conducted in many places, ensuring that its effect is wide reaching.
They also demonstrated that the test is very accurate. The article states that CAMCI correctly identified >85% of subjects with mild cognitive impairment. It also correctly identified those patients with normal cognitive function 94% of the time, showing that it was effective at recognizing healthy and unhealthy mental processes alike.
The doctors did not develop this program to diagnose the early signs of Alzheimer's disease, but rather as a tool that other primary care physicians can use to identify mild cognitive impairment that is both easy to use and statistically effective. By using the current criteria for mild cognitive impairment, they were able to create this self-administered test that is both user-friendly and automatically scored. They hope that with the advent of this program, testing for mental disorders in the elderly will become as easy and as common as testing for heart disease or metabolic disease.
The full article can be accessed on Postgraduate Medicine's website at http://www.postgradmed.com