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TICS: Assess for cognitive impairment remotely
March 31, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the world as we know it. On a professional level, social distancing and safer-at-home guidelines mean that many practitioners are now using the internet and other technologies to stay in touch with their patients, clients, and students.

Although they can no longer come into the office, older patients with conditions causing cognitive impairment or dementia still need to be evaluated and monitored. Many of these patients may not be familiar or comfortable with video chatting or other common online tools.

The Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) can help. In clinical and research use for more than 30 years, the TICS was the first measure developed specifically for remote cognitive assessment. It provides a quick and easy way for clinicians to screen patients and clients for cognitive impairment and has proven itself in hundreds of studies and clinical trials. It has also been translated into several foreign languages and is available for licensing.

“The TICS is meant for remote assessment,” said test coauthor Jason Brandt, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Even if you can’t see the patient in person, you can still get an indication if he or she is having difficulty thinking, remembering, or communicating.”

Consisting of just 11 items, the TICS takes about 10 minutes to administer by telephone. A family member or other proctor is required to be with the examinee to ensure the environment is appropriate for testing. An S-level product, it can be administered by anyone with appropriate training, including nurses and trained research assistants.  Results are reported using a qualitative impairment range and T scores.

With the current constraints of COVID-19, checking up on elderly patients who have or are at risk of having cognitive impairment is essential. “In just minutes,” Brandt said, “the TICS gives you a snapshot of the person’s cognitive functioning and allows you to make more informed clinical decisions.”

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