Serving Memory Well: Innovative Ways to Detect and Treat Dementia
Studies on memory disorders at Ohio State range from pen-and-paper assessments to high-tech surgical procedures. Douglas Scharre is involved across the spectrum of this research. He developed SAGE (Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination), a hand-written test that can detect changes in thinking abilities, and is a co-investigator on a trial seeking to determine whether deep-brain stimulation can improve cognitive and behavioral function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The SAGE test is a four-page series of questions that might seem elementary: What is today’s date? If you buy $1.95 in groceries, how much change would you receive from a $5 bill? Write down the names of 12 different vegetables. Copy this picture of a cube. But the questions and tasks tap into areas of the brain responsible for memory, language, reasoning, problem solving and visual perception. Earlier this year, Scharre published a paper confirming the assessment’s practicality as a screening tool for cognitive impairment in community settings to establish baseline function and detect changes over time – in patients with dementia, early detection means early access to treatments that can slow disease progression. In the first six months of this year, the test had been downloaded more than 1 million times. Scharre’s intuitive approach results from years of clinical treatment of patients with cognitive issues and dementia and participation in countless national clinical trials of experimental therapies, neuroimaging and diagnostic assessments for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative disorders.
Scharre is a professor of neurology, director of the division of cognitive neurology and medical director of the neurobehavior & memory disorders clinics at Wexner Medical Center.
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