ECU researchers working to improve early dementia diagnosis

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) –  Statistics shows worldwide millions of people are living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to increase as the years go on.

A team of researchers at ECU are working together to identify the disease early in senior citizen patients in hopes of giving people a better life.

“These patients are actually living in fear of getting dementia.”

Dr. Sunghan Kim with ECU’s college of engineering and technology and the college of nursing are working to diminish that fear, before it becomes a reality.

“You are completely forgotten by yourself, so that is kind of your worst nightmare. They would do anything if they could prevent it,” said Kim.

While there is no cure Dr. Sunghan Kim is studying a platform that can help doctors pin point whether a patient has a mild cognitive impairment, also known as MCI.

“Using the device I can collect brain wave it is called electroencephalogram and then by using the brain EEG when can monitor brains activity,” he added.

The skull cap detects the brain signals and then they are fed into a computer, in which Dr. Kim says can determine if you fall below their base score of 30. “Since we are talking about 60 70 80 year old people 28 27 that is fine. But a 26 on the test it becomes dicey. And if your score is lower than 26 which is 25 24 22 that means very likely that you are or have mild cognitive impairment.”

With the help of Rubi Merino with ECU College of nursing, they have recruited more than a dozen participants.

“There are distinct changes that happen in relation to cognitive impairment versus normal changes of memory as they age,” said Merino.

But Dr. Kim says although this is still experimental, ultimately their research could change the world.

“If you know it earlier you can be more careful you have more time you are going to earn more time to be better prepared,” he said.

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