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

ATLANTA - MAY 10: Comedian Robin Williams performs at Chastain Park Amphitheater in Atlanta Georgia. May 10, 1986 (Photo By Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

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

In the present day marks the eighth anniversary of Robin Williams’s dying. 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, based on his son Zak Williams who spoke final yr on The Genius Life podcast in regards to the misdiagnosis. It was later found after the comic’s dying that he truly had Lewy body dementia.

The mind illness impacted Williams’ considering, reminiscence, and motion management which obtained in the best way of each his profession and household life, his son mentioned on the podcast. “There was a spotlight problem that annoyed 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 mentioned. “So, I believe that was laborious for him.”

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

What Is Lewy Physique Dementia?

Lewy physique dementia, additionally identified Dementia with Lewy our bodies (DLB) is a mind illness brought on by an irregular buildup of proteins into lots known as “Lewy our bodies,” based on Mayo Clinic. The progressive dementia results in a decline in considering, reasoning, impartial operate, and may embody adjustments in consideration, visible hallucinations, sleep problem, and sluggish motion.

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

How Is Lewy Physique Dementia Recognized?

In response to the National Institute for Aging (NIA), there may be ongoing analysis to diagnose Lewy physique dementia earlier in life, however at present the one approach to definitively verify it’s via a mind post-mortem performed after dying. What docs could do is use your present indicators and signs to rule out different situations. Nonetheless, within the early levels, dementia with lewy our bodies is difficult to tell apart from Parkinson’s illness or Alzheimer’s illness, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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

Can Lewy Physique Dementia Be Handled or Cured?

Sadly, there isn’t any remedy for Lewy physique dementia, so therapy focuses on managing signs, says the NIA. Behavioral and temper adjustments worsen as considering skills decline, making melancholy, apathy, agitation, paranoia, and delusions widespread. Sure Alzheimer’s illness medicines and Parkinson’s illness medicines could also be used to deal with signs. Non-drug approaches may be useful. Sure life-style adjustments, like modifying your setting and creating each day routines, may support in symptom reduction, per the Mayo Clinic. It is strongly recommended to work with each a neurologist who focuses on dementia, along with a counselor to supply emotional assist.

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