Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Diagnosis Process
A work up by a behavioral neurologist is necessary to rule out other causes for the cognitive changes noted by patient and/or family. This includes blood tests (to exclude other causes of MCI like thyroid or kidney disease), MRI scan of the brain (to look for causes such as strokes or tumors), neurological examination (to look for motor and sensory signs that could be associated with disorders like Parkinson’s disease), neuropsychological testing (to identify the cognitive impairments and determine how much difference there is from others the same age and from estimates of one’s best former level of ability) and a review of how symptoms are affecting every day functioning, that is, if there is evidence observable to others that the patient knows, of a decline in daily functional capacity.  If there is such a decline, then the cognitive symptoms are classified under the term “dementia”.   Often, the neuropsychological evaluation is the only evidence of abnormal cognition.

There are no medications to treat the symptoms of MCI. The medications available to treat Alzheimer’s disease have been used in some studies but are not always recommended.  For this reason, it is important that the memory loss or other thinking changes are evaluated to consider options.