Dementia Screening at Home

Dementia tool for computers may enable patients to do at home screening

(RxWiki News) A new computer tool may allow people to screen for dementia at home and still let a doctor review the results. This new tool may give doctors a hand in diagnosing dementia.

The computer program adapts the clock drawing test that is commonly used by doctors to screen for dementia.

It allows people to take the test at home on a computer or tablet. Then the results are sent to a doctor for review. 

"Ask your doctor about dementia screening."

The original clock drawing test uses paper and pencil. It asks patients to draw a clock with a certain time. The patient has to put in all the numbers and draw the hour and minute hands.

Losing the thinking and memory skills needed to do this task can be a sign that memory is failing and that doctors may want to do other tests.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, led by Hyungsin Kim, adapted the clock drawing test to computers.

Their software, called ClockMe, has two parts. 

The ClockReader is used by the patient. It is the basic clock-test adapted so that a person can use a stylus to draw on a tablet or computer screen.

The ClockReader then emails the drawing to a doctor.

The doctor uses the ClockAnalyzer part of the software to review the results of the test.

Their computer program was tested at the Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Atlanta where it was used alongside the standard paper and pencil version.

Patients using the program reported that it was easy to use, even if they were not computer savvy.

The researchers claimed that ClockAnalyzer offers some perks that the pencil-and-paper version cannot. It allows doctors to watch in real-time the way the drawing was made.

It also gives information about how long it took to complete the drawing and the amount of time between each mark on the drawing.

This new system would also allow doctors to keep a digital record of performance on this task, which may help doctors track small changes in memory and thinking skills.

The computer software is still undergoing testing. The developers of the software plan to make this product available for sale but did not provide any information about when it might become available.

This study was published in September in the Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Review Date: 
October 12, 2012