According to the Medical Research Council somebody is diagnosed with a form of dementia every three seconds around the world. Dementia, and conditions like it, are known as neurodegenerative diseases which cause parts of the brain to die, with truly devastating impacts on the patient and their loved ones. Although there is no cure as of yet, early diagnosis means patients could receive care to improve and prolong their quality of life. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in.

AI is defined as “a type of computer technology which is concerned with making machines work in an intelligent way, similar to the way a human mind works.” In the case of Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a team led by Dr Laura Ferraiuolo of The University of Sheffield have found that AI could be used to assess and monitor potential patients. Specifically, machines could be programmed to recognise Alzheimer’s by looking at an image of a patient’s brain, as well as assessing their movements and speech to determine if they are likely to be suffering from the condition before symptoms progress.

This will not only help to improve the quality of life of the patient, but also save the NHS a great deal of time and therefore money. This is because it would allow clinicians to focus on helping patients as some of the diagnostic work would be taken care of using this pioneering technology. It would also mean that patients would not necessarily need to attend an appointment in order to be assessed, they could undergo the required tests from the comfort of their own home, both reducing stress for the patient and allowing greater efficiency within the clinic.

At a time when the average age of the world’s population is increasing, it has never been more important to put in place measures to diagnose and help treat age-related conditions. Recent evidence suggests AI is a promising method of helping both clinicians and patients in the battle against crippling neurodegenerative conditions.

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