What is the Cognitive Abilities ScreeningTest (CASI)?

By on August 11, 2013
last stage dementia care

  What is the Cognitive Abilities ScreeningTest (CASI) and what does it diagnose?

The cognitive abilities screening test (CASI) is a group of used as a cross-cultural mental screening test to determine the severity of dementia in a person. This test takes modified versions of other mental screening tests: Mini Mental State Exam, the Modified Mini Mental State test and the Hasegawa Dementia Screening scale.

This is one screening tool that is useful in detecting different types of dementias or cognitive impairment in a variety of multicultural populations. The CASI was first developed to screen for dementia, identify each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to track cognitive changes that occur over time.

The CASI has a scoring range of 1 to 100. This screening tool uses 22 different items to assess 10 different cognitive abilities. The test takes about 20 minutes to administer.

The test evaluates: long term memory, short term memory, language, and attention, the ability to concentrate and mentally manipulate information, orientation, abstract thinking judgment, language, visual construction and list generating ability.

Long-term memory is assessed by discussing past events, naming historical figures such as presidents. The past events may need to be verified by a family member as to correctness of names or event.

Discussing recent events, news, meals or even television programs assesses short-term memory.

Asking the person to identify similarities or differences in objects assesses language ability. An object is given and the person is to determine something different – water/sand or the same – flower/plant.Dementia testing

Counting by 2’s to a certain number assesses attention. Counting may be easier for some that have poor or no math skills.

Explaining familiar proverbs will assess abstract thinking and judgment.  Disorganized thinking is assessed at this time as well.

The clock drawing test determines visual construction, judgment, executive function, memory and how the individual processes information.  This simple test can reveal so much about specific areas of the brain that may be damaged or have experienced change.

The list generating ability screening portion of the test determines memory, recall and organization. The person is asked to name a list of as many animals they can in one minute. The average person lists about 12 to 14 different types of animals.

More on the Cognitive Abilities Screening Test

It is important to remember that this tool is used to determine cognitive impairment and level of impairment or changes in level of cognitive status. A neuropsychologist usually preforms these tests. A variety of different tests can help identify the specific areas of the brain affected and help plan for future care needs.

Cognitive testing has limitations and requires more comprehensive specialized testing to make an accurate diagnosis.  Your health care professional will need to take a complete medical history, family medical history, review medications and supplements that a person may be taking, as well as do a complete physical.  Routine blood tests and imaging tests (MRI, CAT scans) may be ordered to rule out other medical conditions or evaluate other co-existing medical conditions.

Screening tests for dementia are not diagnostic tests.  They are to identify a problem early and be interpreted by a health care professional along with other tests to get an accurate diagnosis of dementia.

For More information on the pro’s and cons of Dementia click here