Ohio State’s College of Public Health found the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) may help physicians tackle the rising number of dementia patients and improve preventative treatment strategies by detecting early signs of cognitive impairments.
Dr. Doug Scharre, director of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center led the study. Dr. Haikady Nagaraja, professor and chair of the College of Public Health’s division of biostatistics, was the sole statistician on the project. He designed the studies, suggested sample sizes, and analyzed the data to showcase the best features of the SAGE test. Dr. Nagaraja said one of his favorite aspects of this long-term project was to be there from start to finish.
More than 1,000 volunteers ages 50 and older were given SAGE as part of a study. They found the 15-minute test was successful in detecting four out of every five people tested with mild cognitive decline. The first exam score acts as a baseline from which scores can be monitored and assessed from year to year.
SAGE is designed to be administered anywhere with just a pencil and paper. Consisting of 22 questions, the test assesses six separate aspects of cognition: language, orientation, computation, visuospatial comprehension, problem solving and memorization.
Researchers have stressed that this exam should not be used to diagnose but rather to detect symptoms. Once the exam has been taken, it is recommended that the results should be shared with a physician, particularly for those who score less than a 17.
Dr. Nagaraja notes that the SAGE test has a major impact on public health.
“At this moment there are over 99 million people over the age of 50 in the U.S. (and over a billion in the world) who can potentially benefit from the SAGE test,” Dr. Nagaraja said. “Early detection of cognition impairment can result in timely therapies and happier lives for millions, and substantial reduction of the disease burden on society.”
Further studies are being planned to use SAGE to measure the rate of change over time in normal aging and in various cognitive disorders.
The research on the community implementation of SAGE appears in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. The research was also featured on CBS News, the Huffington Post, and the local NBC affiliate.
Want to test your brain? Visit go.osu.edu/sagetest