Cognitive Disorders Specialist

Shankle Clinic

Neurology Specialists located in Newport Beach, CA

“Cognitive disorder” is a very broad term that encompasses numerous health conditions and symptoms ranging from mild to serious. The loss of cognitive skills may be curable or may progressively worsen. William Shankle, MS, MD, FACP, and the highly-trained team at Shankle Clinic in Newport Beach, California, have an exceptional reputation as experts in cognitive disorders. With their compassionate care and support, patients with cognitive disorders maintain the most productive lifestyles possible. At the first sign of memory loss or confusion, call the office or schedule an appointment online.

Cognitive Disorders Q & A

What are cognitive disorders?

Cognition refers to your many mental functions, including learning, memory, problem-solving, understanding language, communicating, and being able to reason and make decisions. A cognitive disorder occurs when a health condition or injury affects your brain’s ability to function properly.

Cognitive disorders are broadly categorized as:

Mild cognitive impairment

When you have a mild cognitive impairment, you experience some decline in your memory and thinking abilities. However, you’re aware of the changes, and they do not affect your ability to perform your usual daily activities.

Major cognitive impairment

Major cognitive impairment is often synonymous with progressive dementias. Your memory loss and cognitive changes are severe enough to interfere with your ability to engage in everyday life.

What causes cognitive disorders?

There are many possible causes of cognitive dysfunction. The most common include:

  • Neurodegenerative conditions (Parkinson’s, Huntington’s)
  • Psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder)
  • Dementia (Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body, frontotemporal, and vascular dementias)
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Amnesia
  • Prion disease
  • Delirium

Delirium appears suddenly, interfering with your ability to pay attention and making you feel disoriented. The most common causes of delirium include drugs, dehydration, infections, kidney failure, and liver failure. Many older adults develop delirium following surgery or during hospitalization.

What symptoms develop due to cognitive disorders?

Your symptoms depend on the type of cognitive disorder. As a group, they cause symptoms such as:

  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Short-term and long-term memory loss
  • Inability to pay attention or concentrate
  • Impaired judgment
  • Trouble performing routine tasks
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Difficulty understanding language
  • Changes in personality and behavior
  • Emotional instability

You may also develop tremors, muscle stiffness, and balance problems.

How are cognitive disorders treated?

The team at Shankle Clinic begins with a thorough exam and diagnostic testing, including cognitive impairment testing when your symptoms indicate a cognitive disorder. Then they develop your treatment plan based on the underlying cause of your cognitive disorder and the severity of your symptoms.

Some cognitive problems improve when the underlying condition is treated. For example, implementing treatment for delirium and dementia caused by a medical condition such as hypothyroidism or vitamin deficiency eliminates cognitive symptoms.

Other conditions can’t be cured, so your treatment focuses on slowing down disease progression and managing your symptoms. Traumatic brain injuries are treated with rest, while movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease benefit from structured exercise.

Treatment for most patients includes a combination of physical therapy and medications that relieve symptoms. Your treatment may also include lifestyle recommendations for changing your diet, improving your sleeping habits, and learning to reduce stress.

If you experience memory loss, confusion, or any other sign of a cognitive disorder, call Shankle Clinic or book an appointment online.