According to the Alzheimer’s Association, some 40% of dementia cases are not due to Alzheimer’s but to other conditions. Memory loss can even be attributed to traumatic brain injuries that were incurred years before. Oklahoma residents should know that a UCLA study has not only reinforced this fact but also found a way to distinguish between memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s and that caused by TBIs.
MRI scans can reveal subtle abnormalities in patients with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. Researchers looked for similar abnormalities in their group of 40 UCLA patients who had incurred a TBI and who were experiencing memory loss. The results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
It turns out that TBIs and Alzheimer’s have their greatest impact on different parts of the brain. With the former, it’s the ventral diencephalon (associated with learning and emotions) that is most atrophied and the hippocampus (associated with memory and emotions) that sees the least impact. With the latter, the greatest effect is on the hippocampus.
Doctors can use this method of distinguishing TBI from Alzheimer’s without the need for special imaging. If the method is widely adopted, it will go a long way to preventing Alzheimer’s misdiagnoses. One study found that 21% of older adults with dementia are mistakenly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses and other diagnostic errors can form the basis for a medical malpractice claim. It all depends on how far the doctor can be held responsible. Victims of a diagnostic error, or the attorney-in-fact over them should they be incapable of making their own decisions, may want legal representation before filing such a claim. A lawyer might request an inquiry with the local medical board and hire third parties to conduct their own investigation. The lawyer may then strive for a settlement.