Scientists develop app to detect mild cognitive impairment

April 24, 2014

By AKIKO OKAZAKI/ Staff Writer

A research team has developed an app that can detect mild cognitive impairment without the presence of a physician.

“It is difficult for MCI patients and people around them to find out if they are suffering from MCI,” said Hiroyuki Shimada, chief scientist of the health ministry team. “(The new app) will enable patients to detect the disease in early stages, and could help prevent dementia.”

People suffering from MCI develop forgetfulness and memory impairment, but it can go undetected because the symptoms are too mild to interfere with their daily lives. An estimated 4 million people in Japan have MCI, and half of them are believed to eventually develop dementia.

Shimada, director of the department of functioning activation at the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, said the app was developed to enable public health nurses and regional volunteers to examine residents at regular health checkups and on other occasions.

The ministry plans to introduce the app by the end of this fiscal year, and public health nurses and volunteers will be allowed to screen potential patients after receiving special training.

Although people currently need to consult doctors to check for MCI, those who just forget things tend to hesitate to see physicians.

The new app, which requires people to answer 125 questions, such as rearranging numbers and remembering words for a given length of time, takes 40 minutes to detect MCI.

The ministry’s team said if people recognize the likelihood of having MCI with the new app, more potential patients will visit doctors.

By AKIKO OKAZAKI/ Staff Writer
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A man visits his wife who has dementia at a care facility in Takamatsu in February. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A man visits his wife who has dementia at a care facility in Takamatsu in February. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • A man visits his wife who has dementia at a care facility in Takamatsu in February. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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