Many of us forget little things from time to time—a name, where we’ve left our keys or if we remembered to close the garage door, for example. While this is generally perfectly normal, if a person begins to forget things more often than other people their age, it may be a sign of a cognitive disorder.
Cognitive disorders are mental conditions that cause people to have trouble with their memory or with thinking clearly. They may experience a confused mental state or exhibit changes in behavior. They affect learning, memory, perception and problem solving, and include such disorders as dementia and amnesia.
Some memory and cognitive disorders are progressive, including Alzheimer’s disease, or they may be acute, such as disorders that result from head trauma.
People experiencing memory and cognitive disorders should be referred to a neurologist. The disorder is typically diagnosed following physical and neurological examinations, though neuropsychological testing, imaging tests, blood tests, liver function tests and thyroid tests may also be indicated. The treatment prescribed will depend on how the disorder is caused. Medication and rehabilitative therapy are the most common treatments. Some cognitive disorders can be completely healed, but many can only be slowed down through treatment.
At Martha Jefferson Neuroscience Center, our neurologists work to tailor treatment to the needs of the patient and his family. In addition to working with the physicians, patients may be referred to our Cognitive Rehabilitation Clinic.