Cambridge Cognition, a British developer of neuropsychological tests, has introduced its CANTABmobile device, designed to radically improve dementia care in the UK.
The new touchscreen CANTABmobile medical software will evaluate a person's episodic memory and help to detect the earliest signs of memory loss that could indicate mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to dementia.
The test instantly compares the patient's result with a normative database of over 4000 adults aged between 50 and 90, demonstrating how the patient's memory compares to the level expected for someone of their age, gender and education.
The CANTAB neuropsychological tests are used by both academic scientists in their research and clinical researchers in the pharmaceutical industry, to maximise knowledge of cognitive function.
Walsall Primary Care Trust, UK, is deploying the device in three areas with a view to launch across general practitioner (GP) surgeries, hospitals to screen patients on wards and for use by clinical nurse specialists working in the community.
East Surrey general practitioner and Royal College of General Practitioners joint clinical champion for dementia, Jill Rasmussen, said the new method of screening for the presence of clinically relevant cognitive impairment in patients at risk of dementia should be seriously considered for use as an option in primary care, acute care and in community settings.
"Use of this assessment tool, together with results of blood tests, as outlined in the NICE guidance, will help GPs differentiate physical illnesses and depression (also associated with cognitive impairment) from dementia and therefore identify patients who are appropriate for referral to memory clinics for more detailed evaluation and diagnosis," Rasmussen added.
Cambridge Cognition chief scientist Andrew Blackwell said CANTABmobile is an objective assessment tool to help doctors detect the early signs of dementia before the damage is done.
"We hope that the work scientists around the world have done for the last 25 years to develop this assessment will make a significant contribution to the NHS's ability to provide a world-class dementia care service," Blackwell added.