Researchers announced on January 9, 2012, they have figured out how to safely and accurately detect dementia and Alzheimer's disease...
Dementia is a loss of cognition, whether caused by disease or injury. This includes deteriorations in memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Causes include, most commonly, diseases that result in degeneration of nerve cells in the brain such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, as well as stroke, excessive alcohol and/or drug use, nutritional deficiencies, infections, head injury, or brain tumors. The image on the left is a normal brain, on the right, one in the later stages of Alzheimer's.
Though cures are still being researched, the use of technology to diagnose brain abnormalities is advancing significantly. Researchers have figured out how to use the positron emission tomography (PET scan) to safely and accurately detect dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
By using PET, which provides 3D images of biological processes in our bodies, and injecting the radioactive marker (18)F-FDG to find specific regions of metabolic decline in the brain, researchers are able to see even the faintest signs of dementia play out far earlier than they might detect outward signs such as changes in personality.
Though there is no cure for the moment this technology will allow doctors to detect dementia early and with much more precision than ever before. The more accurate the diagnosis the better doctors will be able to help patients deal and plan for the future. And when a cure finally arrives, this technology will be key in pinpointing treatment and curing people earlier and faster.
Here is an article in Psych Central, an important online mental health resource, that explains this new technology.