AUSTIN (KXAN) — More Americans than ever are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD. A new test is helping Central Texas doctors provide an accurate diagnosis.
9% of people under age 18 and 4% of adults have it. Medications can offer dramatic improvement.
Instead of the standard questionnaires asking about your function, behavior and sleep patterns, a new cutting edge computer diagnostic tool has arrived in Central Texas.
Scott & White’s Cedar Park West Clinic began using it three months ago. Doctors say the results have been remarkable.
Designed for patients ages six to 55, the Quotient Test measures your attentive acuity and head movement, which can be an indicator of difficulty focusing. The test has a 94% accuracy rate for ruling out the disorder.
The test for adolescents lasts 15 minutes. The adult test runs 20. With a series of symbols flashing on the screen, the patient is instructed to click specific symbols, but not for others.
Colorful graphs and charts then instantly display the results. Patients scoring 70 and above are cleared. There is a gray area in between, and patients who score in the 30s or less are likely to have the disorder.
Continued ability to focus is measured in five minute increments.
Dr. Arti Lal at the Cedar Park West Clinic says these results are very convincing for parents who may be reluctant to put their child on Ritalin or other medications.
“It is a moment of revelation for them,” Lal said. “They see it very objectively. The colored charts and the data make sense to them.”
This diagnostic tool is inexpensive, quick and could be used soon at other clinics.
“There are about 200 machines now in the country,” Lal said. “Neurologists, psychologists and psychiatrists are doing the test, and Kaiser is doing a very big study to determine the efficacy of this.”
Doctors say confirmed ADHD patients are prescribed medication in doses no stronger than necessary, and they say patients are quickly scoring into the seventies on the test.
Follow up diagnostics then determine how effective that treatment is proving to be.
“This is the future of ADHD diagnosis and treatment,” Lal said.
According to national figures, among adolescents, boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD. Among adults the odds are evenly split.