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Impaired Cognition appears to alter pain perception

Dr. Ruth Defrin and colleagues at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel have once again shared some interesting findings in the journal Pain.  This time they have done a review of research about how people with various forms of cognitive impairment (due to conditions such as autism, stroke damage, Alzheimer's disease, and others) perceive pain.

The authors feel that this review is important considering that so many people are affected by these forms of impairment. When coupled with aging and the development of other health conditions, these individuals cannot always verbalize how they are feeling.  So it's important to know how their pain sensitivity rates--more sensitive, less sensitive, or the same as other individuals. This scenario makes affected individuals more difficult to treat than the general population

As to the findings-- Dr. Defrin and her team say that the evidence suggests the following:

1) Normal , healthy aging may be associated with increased susceptibility to pain and perhaps a slight reduction in cognitive performance.

2) Elevated sensitivity to pain seems to occur in patients who have mild or moderate Alzheimer's disease. This becomes more unclear as patients enter late stage disease.

3)Other neurodegenerative conditions show varied change in pain perception. For example Pick's disease and Huntington's disease seem to have decreased sensitivity to pain, but those with Parkinson's disease may experience heightened sensitivity.

4) Developmental disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disability, seem to cause an elevation in pain perception. As is the case with other cognitive impairment issues, new methods of pain assessment may be necessary.

5)Traumatic brain injury and stroke also seem to alter pain perception.

You can read the article in its entirety here.

Sources: Medical;Wikimedia


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