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Next: A Home-Based Test for Dementia?

Wednesday, 24 Oct 2012 12:08 PM


Georgia Tech researchers have devised a new home-based computer test for dementia that they say could easily provide seniors and clinicians clues to early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

The so-called ClockMe System is a software test modeled after the Clock Drawing Test — a commonly used paper-and-pencil screening exam for cognitive impairment — but is taken by individuals using a home computer or a tablet.

"Technology allows us to check our weight, blood-sugar levels and blood pressure, but not our own cognitive abilities," said Ellen Yi-Luen Do, a Georgia Institute of Technology researcher who helped lead the effort to create the new test.
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"Our ClockMe System helps older adults identify early signs of impairment, while allowing clinicians to quickly analyze the test results and gain valuable insight into the patient's thought processes."
With new cases of Alzheimer's disease expected to increase by 50 percent by the year 2030, researchers said there will be a greater need for an easier tool to allow adults to screen themselves for early signs of dementia.
The ClockMe system has two main components: the ClockReader Application and the ClockAnalyzer Application. The ClockReader test, taken with a computer or tablet, gives participants a specific time to draw a clock with numbers and the correct minute and hour hands. The sketch is then emailed to a clinician, who uses the ClockAnalyzer Application to score it, based on 13 specific traits that may flag early signs of dementia.
People with cognitive impairment typically make mistakes in their placement of clock numbers and hands, may include extra numbers, put digits outside of the clock face, or get the time wrong.
ClockAnalyzer records the duration of the test and the time between each stroke. It can also replay the drawing in real time, allowing a clinician to watch the drawing being created to observe abnormalities. Because they're saved electronically, the drawings can also be used to easily compare a person's cognitive ability over time.
"The traditional paper-and-pencil test is usually overseen by a technician and later scored by a clinician, who scores the test based only on the finished drawing," said Do, a professor in Georgia Tech's Colleges of Computing and Architecture. "By looking at the sketch, the scorer is not able to decipher whether the person struggled to remember certain numbers while drawing the clock. The ClockMe system's timing software highlights those delays."
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The ClockMe system was tested at the Emory University Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Atlanta, where it's being used in addition to the traditional paper-and-pencil test.
Do and her colleagues, who reported on their research in the Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments, are hoping to make the test commercially available in the near future.
The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.




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Georgia Tech researchers have devised a new home-based computer test for dementia.
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2012-08-24
Wednesday, 24 Oct 2012 12:08 PM
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