December 1, 2022

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What Is Lewy Physique Dementia, and Why Is It So Onerous to Diagnose?

TW: This text incorporates point out of suicide. Please proceed thoughtfully.

Right this moment marks the eighth anniversary of Robin Williams’s loss of life. The legendary comic and actor dedicated suicide in 2014 at age 63. Williams suffered from melancholy and was misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s illness, which performed a job within the “frustration” and discomfort Williams skilled in life, in accordance with his son Zak Williams who spoke final yr on The Genius Life podcast concerning the misdiagnosis. It was later found after the comic’s loss of life that he really had Lewy physique dementia.

The mind illness impacted Williams’ considering, reminiscence, and motion management which obtained in the way in which of each his profession and household life, his son stated on the podcast. “There was a spotlight challenge that pissed off him, there have been points related to how he felt and in addition from a neurological perspective he did not really feel nice,” he says.

“What he was going via did not match one to at least one [with what] many Parkinson’s sufferers expertise,” Zak stated. “So, I feel that was arduous for him.”

So why was Williams misdiagnosed? In accordance with consultants, there are numerous similarities between Parkinson’s illness and Lewy physique dementia. Hold studying to be taught extra about Lewy physique dementia, together with causes, signs, and therapy.

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What Is Lewy Physique Dementia?

Lewy physique dementia, additionally identified Dementia with Lewy our bodies (DLB) is a mind illness attributable to an irregular buildup of proteins into plenty referred to as “Lewy our bodies,” in accordance with Mayo Clinic. The progressive dementia results in a decline in considering, reasoning, impartial perform, and would possibly embrace adjustments in consideration, visible hallucinations, sleep problem, and sluggish motion.

Lewy physique dementia “causes some or all the motor signs of Parkinson,” in accordance with Johns Hopkins Medication, which might’ve contributed to Williams’s misdiagnosis. Signs like tremors, fluctuating cognition, and issue with motion all overlap. Alzheimer’s Affiliation (AA) says the ailments is likely to be linked to the identical underlying mind abnormalities.

How Is Lewy Physique Dementia Recognized?

In accordance with the Nationwide Institute for Growing old (NIA), there’s ongoing analysis to diagnose Lewy physique dementia earlier in life, however presently the one approach to definitively affirm it’s via a mind post-mortem carried out after loss of life. What medical doctors could do is use your present indicators and signs to rule out different situations. Nonetheless, within the early phases, dementia with lewy our bodies is difficult to differentiate from Parkinson’s illness or Alzheimer’s illness, in accordance with the Alzheimer’s Affiliation.

Most individuals identified with the Lewy physique dementia are over 60, and it is extra frequent in males, per the Mayo Clinic, which put Williams within the increased threat class as he was 63 when he died. Household historical past of the illness additionally will increase the probability of creating Lewy physique dementia, although it isn’t thought-about a genetic illness.

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Can Lewy Physique Dementia Be Handled or Cured?

Sadly, there is no such thing as a treatment for Lewy physique dementia, so therapy focuses on managing signs, says the NIA. Behavioral and temper adjustments worsen as considering talents decline, making melancholy, apathy, agitation, paranoia, and delusions frequent. Sure Alzheimer’s illness drugs and Parkinson’s illness drugs could also be used to deal with signs. Non-drug approaches may be useful. Sure life-style adjustments, like modifying your surroundings and creating day by day routines, may support in symptom aid, per the Mayo Clinic. It’s endorsed to work with each a neurologist who makes a speciality of dementia, along with a counselor to supply emotional assist.