CogniFit's Science blog: Is There A Single Test To Diagnose Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Is There A Single Test To Diagnose Mild Cognitive Impairment?

With any disease the worry of uncertainty can be unsettling. There is a great fear behind wondering whether or not a condition has settled in or not. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can greatly alter one’s life and can be quite troubling as time passes. And diagnosing it can be a bit trickier than you might imagine.

To date there is no specific test doctors can conduct to confirm a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. They can certainly make a judgment call based on tests, patient history and functional ability. What symptoms are there and which ones are absent can also assist with clarification of the diagnosis.

When looking at your condition, there is a specific criterion that doctors will look at to determine whether or not you have the disease. They will first take a look at your memory and other mental health functions. Those with MCI will have problems with memory, planning, following instructions and even making decisions on their own.

On the other side of the spectrum, if your overall mental function and daily activities are not affected it very well could be something different. There are other problems that can bring on similar symptoms causing worry and inconvenience, but if your overall abilities and daily activities are not impaired it is more than likely not MCI.

If you have declined over time, the disease may be evident. Doctors will look at your medical history closely to see if your ability has declined from where it once was.

Doctors will often assess your mental performance with a test like Mini-Mental State Examination to determine if mild cognitive impairment is relevant. They may perform a more detailed neuropsychological test as well to better understand the degree of your memory impairment.

A neurological exam can indicate how well your brain and nervous system are working as well. It can focus on your reflexes, eye movements sense of touch and overall walking and balance. The doctor may ask for blood tests, an MRI or a CT scan as well to check for evidence of a possible brain tumor, stroke or bleeding.

Unfortunately, what you are going to find is that it is more of a process of elimination when diagnosing mild cognitive impairment. While there is no clear test to 100% identify and diagnose someone with the disease, there are several tests that can narrow in on the problems that trouble your life every day. And by regularly brain training you can help maintain or improve some of your cognitive abilities that have declined through time.