A free app to support the assessment of dementia launched worldwide today

Developed by Neuroscience Research Australia’s Professor John Hodges and colleagues at Plymouth
University to reliably screen for dementia, the ACEmobile app is designed by clinicians, for clinicians, for use
on iPads.

The first of its kind, ACEmobile is an iPad-based tool that assists doctors and nurses to conduct dementia
assessments thereby widening the clinical team. The iPad-based tool guides the user through the
Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination (ACE-III) – the most popular and commonly used paper and pencil
dementia screening tool. The app removes the need for clinicians to learn the ACE-III manual. It also
automatically calculates patients’ scores and creates a report for their medical records.
The creators have designed the app to make dementia assessment easier and more reliable for staff and
health professionals globally. The research team will collect information from each assessment conducted
using the app, with a plan to improve the sensitivity of ACEmobile for earlier dementia diagnosis and in
assessment of the effect of new medications as they are tested. One of the major factors holding back the
development of new treatments for dementia is the relative insensitivity of currently used instruments.
NeuRA’s Professor Hodges, who designed the original test says, “Our vision to provide a
computerised version of the ACE, while adhering to the philosophy of creating tests for clinicians at
no cost, has today been realised. To see ACE developed into an on-line medical tool means
greater access to early and decisive diagnoses for all people word-wide. A diagnosis can now be
made anywhere there is an internet connection, which is particularly important in parts of the world
where resources are limited.”

“The Plymouth team have done a great job producing such an attractive and user-friendly app
which I’m sure will find wide usage.”

Dr Rupert Noad, Consultant Neuropsychologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, says; “ACE-III is a great
assessment tool, but as with many such tools which are paper-based, it runs the risk of human error and
miscalculation. By producing the ACEmobile app we have reduced this risk and created a tool that can be
used by the wider dementia care team.”

The ACEmobile will change the way clinicians diagnose dementia allowing greater scope to treat earlier. This
foray into E health is a step forward in global health care. Professor Hodges says, “Not all elderly patients
with suspected dementia can be screened in specialists’ centres particularly with increasing pressure on
healthcare services around the world. Our hope is that that like-minded clinicians and academics will value
the use of this tool in their own practice and look for opportunities to support its continued development and
evolution into the future.”

For interviews with Prof John Hodges contact Siobhan Moylan, Media and Science Communicator at NeuRA
on (02) 9399 1277 or 0406 599 569.

• ACEmobile has the advantage that it supports less-skilled staff to reliably and accurately assess
cognition with the ACE.
• A series of publications has proven the superiority of the ACE over shorter tasks such as the Mini
Mental State Examination (MMSE) and has led to the uptake of the ACE around the world as a
gold standard test for screening patients with potential dementia.
• It has been translated into many languages and has proven extremely popular particularly in the
developing world since it has always been freely available.
• Research with the parent instrument (ACE-R) has shown that scores below 88 raise the suspicion
of early dementia and a score below 82 increases the certainty of dementia since normal controls
or even depressed individuals rarely score below this level.
• The importance of instruments for early detection of dementia cannot be overstated. The
frequency of dementia increases dramatically over the age of 70, escalating in the 80s. This
section of the population is increasing most rapidly leading to an epidemic of dementia.
• Other assessment tools can be quite expensive and less sensitive than the ACEmobile app.
• Early diagnosis is going to become increasingly important as treatments for dementia improve.