The Cognitive Disorders Service runs in parallel with the Dementia Research Centre (DRC), part of the Department of Neurodegenerative Disease at the UCL Institute of Neurology (ION). The clinical and research components form a national centre of excellence for diagnosis and treatment of patients with cognitive problems, and the group is recognised internationally for ground-breaking research in dementia.
All forms of cognitive disorder are seen; however, we have particular expertise in young onset dementia, familial dementias and unusual degenerative diseases. Progressive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), vascular dementia or frontotemporal dementia are commonly seen, but other less common disorders are also assessed including limbic encephalitis, hereditary leukodystrophies and acquired cognitive problems such as amnesia, aphasia, visuo-spatial problems, apraxia, facial recognition and executive dysfunction due to varying aetiologies.
The clinic has a national referral base and has agreed referral pathways with the local CCGs. Referrals are accepted from primary, secondary and tertiary care.
Patients are assessed in a consultant-led multidisciplinary clinic, including neurology, psychiatry, psychology, imaging, specialist nurse, neurophysiology and allied disciplines. Where appropriate, patients are investigated on the same day with MRI, EEG and psychology. If necessary they can be admitted for further investigations to the Day Case Unit at the NHNN and we have a dedicated lumbar puncture clinic for rapid access to spinal fluid assessment. This can be an important part of the diagnostic process. Other modalities of imaging are also available.
Ongoing communication is provided by the award-winning national CANDID (counselling and diagnosis in dementia) phone line and patient support groups in unusual forms of dementia e.g. posterior cortical atrophy, primary progressive aphasia and familial AD and FTD.
In addition to clinical care, all patients are offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials and other studies at the DRC, which has major research commitments into early diagnosis and treatment of dementias. In addition the service has close links with DeNDRoN (Clinical Research network for Dementia and Neurodegenerative diseases) and the national director for dementia research is one of our consultants.