App could help diagnose and treat multiple sclerosis - KMSP-TV

App could help diagnose and treat multiple sclerosis

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Dr. Rao hopes to have the app ready for clinical use early 2015. Dr. Rao hopes to have the app ready for clinical use early 2015.
(WJBK) - Nowadays, it seems like there's an app for everything, and now, a new iPad app may help doctors diagnose and treat multiple sclerosis.

It's a test that is taken in about five minutes and measures a person's cognitive processing speed, or how quickly a person can figure out the answer to a series of simple questions. A slower time could help expose MS-related brain dysfunction.

Dr. Stephen Rao studies multiple sclerosis at Cleveland Clinic and helped develop the app. He says it could impact the way some people are diagnosed and treated.

"If a person has a relapse that involves primarily cognition, this test can then trigger a decision to put a person on a drug or change them from one drug to another," he says.

A patient will be given an iPad before their appointment and perform the test on their own in a quiet room. They'll be asked to select numbers that are paired with symbols as quickly as possible.

The results can be interpreted almost immediately, placed in the patient's medical record and then could generate referral for an MRI or a more comprehensive neuropsychological exam.

Doctors can also use the app to follow someone's progress, so, if they begin to do worse on the test, treatment plans may be altered.

Dr. Rao says the app may one day replace paper and pencil tests that are currently given to MS patients to diagnose processing speed dysfunction.

"We have found that the app is just as reliable and valid as the paper and pencil tests that require a technician to be present when the test is administered," says Dr. Rao.  

Dr. Rao is unveiling the app this week at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting. He hopes to have it ready for clinical use early next year.
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