Page 10-11 - NeuRA 2013 in Review

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Motor neurone disease (MND) is not a
disease of pure motor symptoms, but
can also affect one’s ability to perform
complex judgement and behaviour.
We have been at the forefront of
describing these changes in people with
MND and calling for more attention and
treatment. Our work shows that almost
half of carers of people with MND report
high levels of carer burden and that non-
motor symptoms are the major cause of
this strain.
Our work has highlighted a significant
gap in what happens to the families of
people with MND. Non-motor symptoms
such as changes in thinking, memory and
behaviour are not accounted for in current
diagnostic criteria.
Until these symptoms are included in
diagnostic criteria, leading to an accurate
diagnosis, carers will not know that these
changes are common symptoms, rather
than actions personally directed towards
them by their loved one with MND.
Understanding disparity
between Aboriginal and non-
Indigenous communities
NeuRA research determined that the rate
of dementia in urban and regional
Aboriginal Australians is more than
twice that of non-Indigenous Australians.
The Koori Growing Old Well Study,
conducted between 2009 and 2012, had
336 Indigenous participants from five
urban communities, around Sydney and
the Mid North Coast of NSW.
This information is now being used to
develop education and aged health care
services on the Mid North Coast and in
La Perouse, through the Koori Dementia
Care Project and through collaborations
between NeuRA researchers and other
Treating dementia by bringing
back forgotten words
A simple training program has been
found to restore key words in people with
semantic dementia – a disease that attacks
language and our memory for words.
The program pairs images of household
objects, such as food, appliances and
clothing, with their names, both written
and spoken. After just three weeks of
training, participants’ ability to recall the
names of the items improved.
Semantic dementia is a younger-onset
dementia and, by relearning some of these
everyday words, conversation becomes
less frustrating with overall benefits for
the whole family.
Your Memory | 9
After just three weeks of training, participants’
ability to recall the names of items improved.
Diseases of the body
are often diseases of the mind
Clockwise from top left:
Dr Eneida Mioshi investigates the
burden on family carers of those
affected by neurological disorders;
a participant in the Koori Growing
Old Well study; people with
semantic dementia forget the
names of common items;
PhD student Kirsten Coupland.