Cognitive fluctuations in connection to dysgraphia: A comparison of Alzheimer’s disease with dementia Lewy bodies

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Abstract

Background: The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between cognitive impairment and the performance of handwritten scripts presented as “letter-writing” to a close relative by patients with dementia Lewy bodies (DLB), as fluctuations of the symptoms phase, and in a matched group of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The degree of writing disability and personal, spatial, and temporal orientation was compared in these two groups. Design and methods: Fourteen simple questions, designed in a form that could be utilized by any general practitioner in order to document the level of cognitive functioning of each patient, were presented to 30 AD patients and 26 DLB patients. The initial cognition test was designated PQ1. The patients were examined on tests of letter-writing ability. Directly after the letter-writing, the list of 14 questions presented in PQ1 was presented again in a repeated procedure that was designated PQ2. The difference between these two measures (PQ1 – PQ2) was designated DΔ. This test of letter-writing ability and cognitive performance was administered over 19 days. Results: Several markedly strong relationships between dysgraphia and several measures of cognitive performance in AD patients and DLB patients were observed, but the deterioration of performance from PQ1 to PQ2 over all test days were markedly significant in AD patients and not significant in DLB patients. It is possible that in graphic expression even by patients diagnosed with moderate to relatively severe AD and DLB there remains some residual capacity for understanding and intention that may be expressed. Furthermore, the deterioration in performance and the differences noted in AD and DLB patients may be due to the different speed at which the process of the protein degradation occurs for functional modification of synapses. Conclusion: Our method can be used as part of neuropsychological tests to differentiate the diagnosis between AD and DLB.

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Onofri, E., Mercuri, M., Donato, G., & Ricci, S. (2015). Cognitive fluctuations in connection to dysgraphia: A comparison of Alzheimer’s disease with dementia Lewy bodies. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 10, 625–633. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S79679

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