The ECAS: a tool to detect cognitive change in MND
25 June 2015
Prof Sharon Abrahams and team have published findings proving that the Edinburgh Cognitive ALS Screen is a valid way to detect cognitive changes in people with motor neurone disease.
It is increasingly accepted that some people with motor neurone disease (MND; also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) experience changes in their thinking, emotion, language and behaviour, in addition to their motor symptoms. These are collectively called "cognitive symptoms".
Cognitive symptoms can be difficult to study because many tests rely on a rapid response and are therefore not suitable for people with a physical disability.
A team led by Prof Sharon Abrahams has developed the Edinburgh Cognitive ALS Screen (ECAS). It was developed for MND/ALS patients with a physical disability, for use by healthcare professionals. The screen is designed to detect the specific profile of cognitive and behavioural changes in people with MND, and to differentiate MND from other conditions.
In their latest study, which was published in the journal Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration, the team has proven that the ECAS can detect particular cognitive changes in people with MND.
By comparing the ECAS against gold-standard extensive neuropsychological testing, the researchers demonstrated that the ECAS is a valid way determine the presence, severity and type of cognitive change. This is an essential first step towards managing these symptoms.
Read the article in Amyotophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration (summary free; subscription required for full-text acccess)
Sharon Abrahams is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, sees patients in our Cognitive Disorders Clinic, and is a Principal Investigator of the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research.