Concussions, COVID Brain Fog, Aging: Just Some of the Reasons to Consider a Baseline Cognitive Assessment
By Alan Wedal
Owner, ARCpoint Labs of Milwaukee North
Are you a coach who wants to take precautions about concussions? Would you like to set your mind at ease about your driving abilities as you age? Do you suspect that COVID-19 has left you with lingering “brain fog”?
These are all difficult questions to talk about, to be sure. But the data shows that many of us will need at some point to think about the cognitive well-being of ourselves or our loved ones, whether it’s due to aging, injury or some other medical condition. For instance, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 5-10% of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sports season. And recent studies show that 22-32% of patients who recovered from COVID-19 complain about brain fog.
If you’re wondering whether you or a loved one is at risk of cognitive impairment or already showing signs of impairment, one step to consider is a baseline test. ARCpoint Labs of Milwaukee North offers this option through a system called Cognivue.
What Is Cognivue and How Does It Work?
Cognivue is the first FDA-cleared computerized test of cognitive function. It is a simple, self-administered test that does not require a doctor’s appointment. ARCpoint Labs of Milwaukee North is trained by Cognivue to offer this service. The entire process takes just 10 minutes at our Brookfield facility — a 5-minute warmup followed by a 5-minute test while sitting at a computer monitor.
Cognivue focuses on the key cognitive domains of visuospatial, memory, executive function, naming/language, delayed recall and abstraction, and also the key parameters of speed processing and reaction time. Basically, these are ways to assess cognitive functions.
Clients who take the self-administered test are given an easy-to-interpret report that can be taken to a physician. The report has four parts:
- An overall score indicating whether there is normal cognitive function, low cognitive impairment, or moderate to severe cognitive impairment.
- A physician report with an average score by domain that’s further broken down by each sub-test.
- A reaction time and speed processing report for the physician that provides more detail about the patient’s average visual and motor reaction time.
- A physician information overview that physicians can review with the patient, with suggested follow-up steps based on their clinical score range.
It’s important to know that this report doesn’t diagnose the cause of impairment if it exists. Instead, it is designed to be used as a first step.
Some people will take the test and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their score doesn’t indicate impairment. Some will use it as a baseline to measure against in the future. Others will seek further medical advice to find and treat the underlying issue.
Why Take a Cognivue Assessment?
Why is this useful? Let me go back to the examples I used at the beginning.
Concussions. Coaches or parents or even club-sport participants who are at risk of concussions can use Cognivue as a baseline. Typically, if a head injury occurs an athlete won’t return to play without a doctor’s clearance. At this point, a follow-up Cognivue test can be compared to the baseline results to inform a parent’s or coach’s decisions. As the patient returns toward his or her baseline, their doctor may use that to say it’s OK to practice or play. Some parents like the peace of mind a baseline test can bring, too, because it can help monitor their young athlete’s health over time.
Driving at an advanced age. We all know someone who has been asked to stop driving at a certain age. This can be an awkward and painful family conversation. I know clients who have used Cognivue to help guide this discussion. Sometimes it’s a parent who uses the results to reassure their worried children. Or it can work the other way, demonstrating there’s a reason to make changes. Either way, it can take some of the emotion out of a difficult conversation by offering impartial, science-based insights.
COVID brain fog. There is still much to learn about the long-term effects of COVID, but we know that some people who contract the virus complain about lingering brain fog after they recover. For those people, a Cognivue test might cut through the fog a bit by indicating their level of impairment and what specific areas of cognitive function have been affected. Re-taking the test over time can help them know whether they are making progress.
In these cases and in and others, it’s important to share your Cognivue results with a physician to make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps to diagnose and treat your condition.
What Else to Know About Cognivue
Cognivue is designed to help patients and physicians identify a problem, find a solution, and ultimately elevate the standard of care that is received. But because Cognivue is a relatively new tool, many physicians and patients are not familiar with it. I feel it has many benefits that more and more people will come to value.
One major reason is affordability. At $50, a 10-minute Cognivue test can give you preliminary insights without visiting a pricey specialist. The more affordable and accessible assessments are, the easier it is to detect issues early and find an effective treatment plan.
Here are other things to know about Cognivue:
- No physician referral is needed. Just call us to make an appointment. Your test results will be ready immediately.
- It has a 510(k) clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning that the claims being made about its benefits have been scrutinized and deemed safe and effective when used as intended.
- Cognivue is being used in a major clinical study designed to find more tools for early detection of Alzheimer’s, with the hope this disease can be diagnosed more rapidly and affordably.
- Cognitive functions influence our well-being in many ways beyond those discussed here, such as hearing and vision. Cognivue can offer insights that help many types of practitioners understand a patient’s condition.
- Cognivue was designed for consistency and to eliminate human subjectivity or error. Each device is uniformly calibrated, so a patient can compare scores regardless of where the test was taken.
Interested? ARCpoint Can Help
If you’re a physician or a patient interested in a Cognivue assessment, call us at (262) 923-8386 or contact us on our website. We’re in an easy-to-find location at 4125 N. 124th St. Ste G Brookfield. We look forward to seeing you.