A Dementia Detection Game Changer

Written by Matt Harrison
Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:59PM

Medical research has come a long way since the days of Ancient Greece. We no longer drill holes in the heads of patients. And we no longer depend on the gods to save us.

There is still a certain spiritual belief in medicine. But realistically, we depend on medical research.

Countless vaccines have been developed. Therapies have been perfected. Chemotherapy has made huge leaps in the treatment and remission of cancer.

We’ve perfected the AIDS cocktail to the point where the virus is nowhere near the death sentence it once was.

But there’s still one disease we can’t figure out.

Dementia.

It’s a steep decline in mental ability late in life. Alzheimer’s is the most common type.

Dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells. The disease is characterized by a loss of language skills, focus, and attention span, as well as reasoning and problem-solving skills.

For sufferers and their loved ones, dementia is the cruelest of diseases. Loved ones watch their spouse or parent waste away. And the most tragic result is that the sufferer eventually fails to recognize any of their loved ones.

We’ve made some small progress in fighting this disease. And naturally, much of it is accidental, such as the discovery that high levels of lithium in drinking water may lower your risk of dementia by as much as 17%.

But the area where we’re making the most progress is in our ability to diagnose and treat dementia and Alzheimer’s as early as possible.

And the best tool for detecting dementia may be in your computer.

Researchers from Osaka University and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology have made a breakthrough discovery in the diagnosis of dementia.

They created a computer program that ran a series of tests on elderly volunteers.

The tests were comprised of easy questions. They were only meant to calibrate a baseline of healthy dialogue in seniors.

After months of machine learning, the program is now able to distinguish a healthy person from one with the onset of dementia. It takes just six questions at two to three minutes per question. The program is 92% accurate.

The program actually listens to the subject’s spoken responses to determine the presence of dementia. The analysis is based on delays in response, content of questions, intonation, articulation rate of the voice, and the percentage of nouns and verbs spoken in a response.

When this program becomes widespread, it is going to save lives.

Takashi Kudo, head of the research team, claims:

If this technology is further developed, it will become possible to know whether or not an elderly individual is in the early stages of dementia through conversation with computer avatars at home on a daily basis. It will encourage them to seek medical help, leading to early diagnosis.

It’s one of the biggest conundrums in the medical field. People don’t want to be told they’re not well. They don’t want to go to the doctor, have to talk to strangers, and wait in a thin paper gown in cold, sterile environments.

Getting patients properly diagnosed is half the battle. With the easy access of an at-home computer diagnosis, early intervention could have profound effects on the treatment of dementia.

In terms of investing, the medical research field is a constantly bubbling, changing animal. There are massive profits to be had, and breakthroughs could happen at any moment.

You can trust our team at Park Avenue Digest to keep you updated on the biggest moves, players, and changes in the worldwide medical field and beyond.

Invest well,

Matt Harrison
Contributing Editor, Park Avenue Digest

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