LBD Center of Excellence
We are designated as a Research Center of Excellence by the Lewy Body Dementia Association, a leading advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness and advancing research and treatment of Lewy body dementia (LBD).
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the second most frequent cause of dementia in elderly adults. This is a neurodegenerative disorder that shares many symptoms with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, so it is questioned whether DLB is a distinct disorder on its own or if it is perhaps a type of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
Patients with DLB may have parkinsonian features such as slow or decreased amplitude of movements (akinesia), muscle stiffness (rigidity), tremor, and/or shuffling gait, or features similar to those of Alzheimer's disease such as loss of memory.
Typically, patients with DLB have acute confusion, fluctuation of cognitive symptoms, and psychiatric disturbances such as hallucinations, delusions and depression. A diagnosis of DLB is more likely when visual hallucinations occur early in the course of the disease and are not caused by a medication.
DLB usually occurs in the late 60s, but may occur in younger people as well, particularly in familial cases.
DLB has deposits in certain areas of the brain of a protein called alpha-synuclein that form structures called Lewy bodies that are also linked to Parkinson's disease.
DLB is a slowly progressive condition for which there is no cure, but the search for specific therapies is ongoing. Treatment is symptomatic, often involving the use of medication to control the parkinsonian, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms.
However, patients should be aware that antiparkinsonian medication that may help to reduce tremor and slowness of movements may actually worsen the psychiatric symptoms (hallucinations and delusions). Similarly, medications prescribed for the psychiatric symptoms may worsen the motor problems.
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Our current research focuses on learning how to better diagnose, treat, and prevent this disease. The overall goal is to find out what causes this disease, so we can focus on preventing and curing rather than only treating its symptoms.