The term neurocognitive disorder refers to neurological conditions that affect cognitive functions. Cognitive disorders are classified as mild or major depending on the person’s ability to function independently and perform everyday activities. Neurocognitive disorders have a variety of causes, ranging from infections to immunological conditions, to stroke or traumatic brain injury. The common denominator is some sort of nerve cell damage in the brain.
People with neurocognitive disorders may have problems with:
- Planning, organizing and decision-making
- Problem solving
- Ability to comprehend social cues and/or behave appropriately
Cognitive disorders are classified as mild or major depending on the person’s ability to function independently and perform everyday activities.
Neurocognitive disorders have a variety of causes, ranging from infections to immunological conditions, to stroke or traumatic brain injury. The common denominator is some sort of nerve cell damage in the brain. Our neurologists treat the full range of neurocognitive disorders, including the most prevalent ones listed below.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurocognitive disorder, currently affecting some 5.5 million people in the United States.
- Lewy body dementia has Alzheimer-like symptoms, but patients may also experience sleep disturbances, visual hallucinations, and gait issues.
- Frontotemporal dementia is a general term for a group of disorders that cause shrinkage in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Depending on which part of the brain is affected, some people may display dramatic personality changes, becoming impulsive, emotionally flat, or socially inappropriate, while others may experience deterioration in their language ability.
- Parkinson’s disease is usually considered a movement disorder but in the later stages, it can also cause depression, behavior changes, speech problems, and sleep disturbances.
- Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder that has both motor and mood symptoms. The disorder strikes in mid adulthood and manifests in slurred speech, impaired thinking, and poor coordination.
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid that causes pressure on the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss, movement difficulties, and incontinence.
- Vascular dementia can happen after a stroke if there was bleeding or a blocked blood vessel in the brain.
Treatments for neurocognitive disorders depends on the disorder. If the cause is an infection, such as with meningitis, antibiotics will be given.
Surgery may help with severe brain damage. Occupational and physical therapy can help people improve everyday skills. Medication is available that can temporarily improve the symptoms of dementia.