Dementia Or Benign Senescent Forgetfulness? Highlighting Differences And Discussing Novel Interventions

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By: Dr. John Conde DC, DACNB Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
In order to differentiate between dementia and benign senescent forgetfulness, both conditions must be explained. Dementia is defined as a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes, a decline in mental ability. It is an umbrella of disorders and includes Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, sequlae of a traumatic brain injury, and frontotemporal dementia just to name a few. In order to begin investigations into the possibility of dementia an individual must have at least two types of cognitive impairments that are significantly interfering with everyday life. These impairments may include difficulty finding the right words, changes in mood, confusion, apathy, subtle short-term memory changes, difficulty with spatial direction, difficulty comprehending movies or books, difficulty completing normal everyday tasks, and repeating things over and over again. Dementia is diagnosed with a neurological exam (including the Montreal cognitive assessment battery), a battery of neuropsychological tests, and imaging studies such as an MRI of the brain.
Benign senescent forgetfulness is identified as a memory defect marked by the inability to immediately recall information. This information, whether recent or remote, is eventually recalled. It is typically considered age-associated memory impairment. The difficulties noted usually only center around working-recall of information and is not comorbid with changes in mood, confusion, apathy, difficulty with finding the right word, or spatial orientation as seen in classical dementia. Only one type of cognitive impairment is noted and it is transient and usually resolves rather quickly.
Novel and exciting non-pharmaceutical interventions do exist in the treatment of dementia although no cure is present at the time. The focus of care is to slow down the progression of the disorder, improve overall brain function, and improve quality of life. Pharmaceutical interventions usually consist of cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept) and memantine (Namenda). Although helpful, we now know we can do more to create change in the complex network of neurons that is the brain. This can be done through environmental stimuli such as light, sound, smell, touch, physical activity, and mental activity. Plasticity is the neurological buzzword that describes these changes in the brain as a result of the stimuli applied. It is understood in the neurological community that once a nerve cell is stimulated it will undergo genetic changes and create more connections and will affect all the nerve cells downstream from it therefore having surround consequences.
The Dynavision D2 is a revolutionary diagnostic and rehabilitative tool. It works on visuo-motor, neuro-cognitive, and spatial skills that are often deleteriously affected in dementia. It also works on a neurological process called “efferent copy” which engages and integrates two very important regions of the brain in dementia, the frontal lobe and cerebellum. The user is required to manually compress 64 LED lights that are blinking in a strategically established manner according to the neurological presentation of the person. To add to the difficulty and involve higher brain centers, a “T-scope” is present which requires the user to multi-task by flashing numbers, letters, words, math, and icons while still having to compress the targets. The goal of the therapy is to create neuroplastic changes in brain.
Dr. John Conde is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist, one of only one thousand in the country. He holds diplomate status through the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. He provides specialized care for difficult cases of back neck pain, numbness-tingling, vertigo-dizziness balance disorders, fibromyalgia, migraines, AD/HD, autism, and dyslexia. His office is located at the Atlantic Grove in Delray Beach, FL and can be reached at 561-330-6096, drconde@thecondecenter.com, and at www.thecondecenter.com