Authors: Alice Weatherston
Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is difficult to diagnose as there are limited options or techniques for assessing many of the behavioral and cognitive symptoms of the disease. However, research recently released by Florida Atlantic University (FL, USA) has demonstrated a potential new method for effectively diagnosing LBD and Parkinson’s disease dementia. The new technique, termed the ‘Lewy Body Composite Risk Score’ (LBCRS) was recently presented in a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
The LBCRS is a rating scale designed to be completed by a clinician in order to successfully assess the key symptoms associated with the pathologies of each of the diseases, including bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability, or rest tremor. Importantly, this can all be achieved through a simple, one-page survey, removing the usual need to grade each extremity individually. The survey provides a short series of yes/no questions on six non-motor features often present in LBD patients but not in those with other forms of dementia.
The recent study analyzed 256 patients of different genders and education levels as well as with varying comorbidities, symptoms and diagnoses. Each patient was compared with the standard clinical dementia rating and gold standard measures of cognition, motor symptoms, function and behavior.
During the study caregivers also completed evaluations of non-cognitive symptoms in the patient and their corresponding impact on the caregiver, and on attendance at the clinic patients received a 30-minute test battery to assess their current cognitive status. The LBCRS was completed after all other rating scales had been scored and the initial diagnosis had been presented.
Results indicated that the LBCRS was capable of successfully discriminating between Alzheimer’s disease and LBD with 96.8% accuracy, as well as providing sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 87%.
Lead author of the study and Neurology Central Expert Panelist, James Galvin (Florida Atlantic University), commented: “Most patients never receive an evaluation by a neurologist skilled in the diagnosis of LBD, and significant delays and misdiagnoses occur in most patients with this disease. This new tool has the potential to provide a clearer, more accurate picture for those patients who are unable to be seen by specialists, hastening the correct diagnosis and reducing the strain and burden placed on patients and caregivers.”
He added: “Early detection of Lewy body dementias will be important to enable future interventions at the earliest stages when they are likely to be most effective. Our study provides evidence-based methodology that will have applications in clinical practice, participation in clinical trials, prevention studies, community surveys, and biomarkers research.”