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Descriptions of dementia can be traced to antiquity. Prichard (1837) described four dementia stages and Kral (1962) described a “benign senescent forgetfulness” condition. The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-III (1980) identified an early dementia stage.
In 1982, the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) and the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) were published, which identified dementia antecedents. The CDR 0.5 “questionable dementia” stage encompasses both mild dementia and earlier antecedents. GDS stage 3 described a predementia condition termed “mild cognitive decline” or, alternatively, beginning in 1988, “mild cognitive impairment” (MCI). This GDS stage 3 MCI condition is differentiated from both a preceding GDS stage 2, “subjective cognitive impairment” (SCI) stage and a subsequent GDS 4 stage of mild dementia.
GDS stage 3 MCI has been well characterized. For example, specific clinical concomitants, mental status and psychological assessment score ranges, behavioral and emotional changes, neuroimaging concomitants, neurological reflex changes, electrophysiological changes, motor and coordination changes, and changes in activities, accompanying GDS stage 3 MCI have been described.
Petersen and associates proposed a definition of MCI in 2001 which has been widely used (hereafter referred to as “Petersen's MCI”). Important differences between GDS stage 3 MCI and Petersen's MCI are that, because of denial, GDS stage 3 MCI does not require memory complaints. Also, GDS stage 3 MCI recognizes the occurrence of executive level functional deficits, which Petersen's MCI did not. Nevertheless, longitudinal and other studies indicate essential compatibility between GDS stage 3 MCI and Petersen's MCI duration and outcomes.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a classification reserved for nondemented elderly individuals at increased risk for future decline to dementia, compared to those with normal cognition. Cognitive tests, particularly those assessing verbal recall, have been found to be useful in the identification of elderly people with MCI. We argue that a variety of motor/psychomotor evaluations are also sensitive to MCI. Motor assessments described as complex correctly categorize normal versus MCI elderly with comparable accuracies to those obtained by cognitive tests. Unlike performance on verbally based cognitive measures, motor-test scores appear to be relatively independent of educational attainment, indicating that the use of certain motor tests may be particularly valuable in the identification of MCI among elderly with widely varying educational backgrounds.
Background: Activities of daily living (ADL) deficits are integral components of dementia disorders, and ADL measures are among the most robust markers of the course of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Despite this acknowledged importance, no clearly useful ADL instrument for cross-cultural application in pharmacologic trials in the early stages of AD had been available. Method: An international effort was launched to develop an ADL scale for pharmacologic trials in early AD. Steps taken from 1990 to the present included: (1) international scientific working group meetings and reviews, (2) reviews of existing measures, (3) collating of existent, nonredundant items, (4) querying experts for new items, (5) interviews with informants and subjects in the USA, France, and Germany, toward the identification of potential new items, (6) identification of an item pool based upon these procedures, (7) creation of a trial instrument, (8) piloting of this instrument, and (9) refinement of the scale based upon statistical analysis of the pilot data. Final item selection was based upon: (1) relevance for ≥ 80% of subjects in severity-stratified USA and German samples; (2) absence of gender and national biases; (3) significant (p < .05) discrimination between (a) normal versus mildly impaired and (b) mildly impaired versus moderately to moderately severely impaired subjects; and (4) Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) scores accounting for ≥ 12% of variance in the item after controlling for age and gender. Results: An ADL scale consisting of 40 items that correlate with the global and cognitive progress of AD is developed for international usage in pharmacologic trials in incipient, mild, moderate, and moderately severe AD. The scale contains 40 items falling within 13 ADL categories. The 40-item scale is shown to have .81 correlation with GDS staging,.81 with mental status assessment (Mini-Mental State Examination), and .81 with a psychometric test (the SKT) (p values < .001). Conclusion: This scale can be used to measure therapeutic response in AD.
To determine the association between cognitive dysfunction and motor behavior in older adults, 41 cognitively normal elderly (NL), 25 nondemented patients exhibiting mild cognitive impairment (MI) and at risk for future decline to dementia, and 25 patients with mild (early) Alzheimer's disease (AD) were examined using a wide array of motor/psychomotor and cognitive assessments. The three groups were recruited from an aging and dementia research center and were composed of well-characterized physically healthy volunteers, with similar ages and gender distributions. The outcome measures included 16 motor/psychomotor tests categorized a priori into gross, fine, and complex, as well as eight cognitive tests of memory and language. Relative to the NL group, MI individuals performed poorly on cognitive, fine, and complex motor measures but not on gross motor tests; AD patients performed worse on cognitive and all motor domains. Differences in complex motor function persisted after adjustment for performance on cognitive and on less complex motor tests. Classification analyses showed similar accuracies in discriminating NL from MI and NL from AD cases for both complex motor (79% and 92% accuracy, respectively) and cognitive tests (80% and 93% accuracy, respectively). Less complex motor tests produced poorer accuracies. Among nondemented subjects, education correlated with several cognitive scores but no motor scores. These results indicate that motor impairment is an important aspect of cognitive decline in older adults. Motor/psychomotor assessments were found to be comparably sensitive to traditional tests of cognitive function in identifying persons affected by the earliest stages of AD pathology and may improve identification of at-risk nondemented elderly, especially among diversely educated individuals.
Research on the nature of clinical symptomatology in AD indicates that two fundamentally different types of symptoms are identifiable. Symptoms within each of these two domains have common characteristics. The first symptomatic domain has been termed the “cognitive domain” and the second the “noncognitive behavioral domain.” Symptoms and losses in the cognitive domain occur invariably and progressively with the advance of AD over time. Symptoms in the behavioral domain do not invariably occur in AD and do not progress monotonically with the advance in AD over time. However, characteristic behavioral domain symptoms can be described over the course of AD.
The two symptomatic domains are likely to differ not only in nature and progression in AD, but also in underlying pathophysiology and in terms of possible treatment modalities. They also pose fundamentally different issues of assessment in AD. These distinct factors necessitate the separate assessment of the two Symptomatic domains in AD treatment trials. Judgments of efficacy and utility in remediating either symptomatic domain in AD should take into consideration the effects of treatment on both cognitive domain and behavioral domain symptoms separately and interactively. Appropriate assessment procedures are discussed.
To address the issue of mild, moderate, and severe Alzheimer's disease (AD), it is necessary to initially establish some agreement on terminology. In recent decades, these terms have frequently been defined using screening instrument scores with measures such as the Mini-Menal State Examination (MMSE). There are many problems with this approach, perhaps the most salient of which is that it has contributed to the total and tragic neglect of patients with severe AD. An alternative approach to the classification of AD severity is staging. This approach has advanced to the point where moderately severe and severe AD can be described in detail. Procedures for describing this previously neglected latter portion of AD have recently been extensively validated. Staging is also uniquely useful at the other end of the severity spectrum, in differentiating early aging brain/behavior changes, incipient AD, and mild AD. Temporally, with staging procedures, it is possible to track the course of AD approximately three times more accurately than with the MMSE. The net result of the advances in AD delineation is that issues such as prophylaxis, modification of course, treatment of behavioral distrubances, loss of ambulation, progressive rigidity, and the development of contractures in AD patients can now be addressed in a scientifically meaningful way that will hopefully bestow much benefit in AD patients and those who care for them.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is asociated with an increased mortality in comparison with aged control populations. The relationship between the clinical and the temporal course of AD has not been well studied over significant intervals. Community residing patients with probable AD (N = 103, 42 men, mean age = 70.2 ± 8.0 years) were studied at baseline on demographic and clinical variables, including measures of global deterioration (Global Deterioration Scale; GDS), mental status and cognition (e.g., Mini-Mental State Examination; MMSE), and functional impairment (Functional Assessment Staging; FAST). Baseline characteristics included a GDS range of Stage 4, 5, or 6 (38.8%, 39.8%, and 21.4% respectively) and a mean MMSE score of 15.4 ± 5.6. The mean follow-up interval was 4.6 ± 1.4 year. Follow-ups were done blind to baseline measures and when necessary were conducted in residential and nursing home settings. Of locatable subjects (n = 95, 92%), 30 (31.6%) were deceased. Survivors (n = 65) had a mean GDS stage of 6.2 ± 0.9 and a mean MMSE score of 5.1 ± 6.9; 51% had MMSE scores of 0. Increased age and male gender, but not baseline clinical dementia variables, increased the risk of death (ps < .01). Change in clinical variables correlated significantly with time elapsed (r = .32, p < .05, for MMSE change, to r = .48, p < .001, for GDS change). Significant variance in temporal change (i.e., time elapsed) was accounted for by change in two of the five clinical measures studied (i.e., GDS and FAST; multiple r = .53). The results support previous estimates of mean duration of the GDS and FAST stages. For subjects with probable AD followed over approximately 5 years, clinical variables changed significantly over time in survivors. However, the majority of temporal variance in the course of AD remains unexplained.
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