Dementia is a broad term which describes the devastating impact of a wide variety of illnesses on thinking and behaviour. The most common kind of dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease, where memory failures are usually the first sign that something is wrong. A person may repeat themselves in conversation or ask the same question repetitively, forgetting they have been told the answer. They may forget appointments, or become lost in familiar environments such as a local shopping centre. The person developing Alzheimer’s disease is often less aware of their difficulties than are family or friends, but is often frustrated and may appear depressed or withdrawn. Other relatively common conditions include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and various kinds of frontotemporal dementia.

Macquarie MindScan can conduct a comprehensive investigation, integrating information acquired through neuroimaging and cognitive assessment to generate an informed diagnosis. Imaging with MRI is frequently required to assess whether abnormalities in the brain’s blood supply are causing the cognitive changes (e.g., strokes, or other deterioration affecting the “white matter” of the brain), or to rule out hydrocephalus or a tumour.

MRI can also be useful in characterising any brain shrinkage. Neuropsychology provides an assessment of brain function which complements the impression of brain structure provided by MRI. Such comprehensive cognitive testing can help pick up patterns of thinking change which help diagnose different kinds of underlying illness, and can indicate the degree of progression (a particularly useful source of information in people who are otherwise performing demanding roles, and may be showing subtle impairment). Neuropsychological review (usually after around one year) can track cognitive change over time, again informing diagnosis and potentially prognosis. In cases where MRI and neuropsychology have not provided sufficient answers to diagnostic questions, PET scans can provide vital data, showing how the brain is functioning in terms of activity.

The patients of Macquarie MindScan receive the benefit of this unique collaboration of experts across multiple fields. The team at Macquarie MindScan is committed to sharing the knowledge acquired from current research techniques to generate an advanced clinical examination for neurodegenerative and other neurological disorders.

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