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Neuro Library
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1 (844) 211-5482

Diagnosing Cognitive Disorders

When you have concerns about memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer's, or other symptoms of impaired cognitive function, it is important to be evaluated by a physician.

Diagnosis is challenging and requires that at least two mental functions be impaired enough to interfere with the patient's daily lifestyle. These functions can include memory, language skills, ability to focus and pay attention, ability to reason and problem-solve, and visual perception.

The diagnostic process will be managed by your medical team, which includes neurologists and/or neuropsychologists, and begins with a comprehensive history and physical work-up before completing a physical exam. The doctor will likely involve any caregivers in this process, as the patient may be unaware of specific symptoms.

Additional tests can assist in better diagnosing the problem:

Neurological evaluation
An evaluation of problem-solving, attention, memory, balance, reflexes, language, visual perception and other areas is used to assess neurological function.

Cognitive and neuropsychological tests
The doctor will evaluate thinking (cognitive) function, using several tests to assess a person's ability to learn and recall information, to attend to their environment, and to concentrate and focus. The doctor will also assess the patient's emotional well-being.

Structural imaging of the brain with MRI or CT scans is used by physicians primarily to rule out other conditions that may cause symptoms like Alzheimer's but require different treatment. These tests can reveal tumors, evidence of small or large strokes, damage from severe head trauma, or a buildup of fluid in the brain.

Imaging technologies have provided specialists with a clearer understanding of the structure and function of the living brain, which is necessary information for diagnosing various neurological conditions.

Laboratory tests
Blood tests can be used to detect physical problems which may affect brain function. The doctor may request that spinal fluid be examined for infection, inflammation, or for markers of some degenerative diseases.
Schedule an appointment today for an assessment with one of our cognitive disorder specialists.