Clock Drawing Test Identifies Symptoms of Dementia

By on March 15, 2013

Could it be possible that the clock drawing  test is a test for dementia? I mean, really?

Antique clock

Antique clock

Having a person draw a picture of a clock, just a circle with numbers, then add an hour and minute hand and set the clock for a specific time. For someone with memory problems, this is not so simple anymore.

So what are we looking for when this test is given? This is a simple assessment tool that is used to identify a wide range of dementia diagnosis symptoms. Using a drawing of a clock can help point out underlying cognitive, or thinking, problems.

Here are a few things that this simple, yet, complex task addresses:

  • Verbal comprehension/understanding
  • Memory function/ short term memory problems/recall
  • Executive function/planning abilities
  • Assessment of visual spatial and perceptual process

The time setting part of the test is a very important part of this test. It can help identify more specifically what part of the brain that is affected. In fact, many insurance companies have refused to pay for expensive tests such as MRI’s and CAT’ scans. The results of the clock drawing test can be used as a baseline, as part of a patient’s medical record to compare from year to year. This information would be able to warrant further testing.

It is amazing that a test for dementia, as simple as the clock drawing test can be so revealing. Please, do not interpret your own test. This is a test that reveals detailed information about the deep levels of one’s brain functions. The individuals that interpret these tests require many years of post-graduate education or more. It’s not as simple as you may think.

Next we will look at the cognistat test.