Diagnosing Memory Loss – Knowledge is Empowering

We understand that neurodegenerative disease causes lots of stress and anxiety, which is why we are here to help.

Finding Answers

Here at Sand Lake Imaging, we understand how stressful a cognitive disease can be for both you and your family. One in six women develop Alzheimer’s in old age as well as one in eleven men. Especially with higher rates of Alzheimer’s in women than men, we want to get you the most accurate and clear scans as the best women’s imaging center in Orlando. As Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is recognized in June, we want to help answer some of the unknowns and questions you may have. We believe that knowledge is power and our team of specialists can provide a variety of scans to give you the answers you deserve.

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are neurodegenerative disorders that impact your neurotransmitters in different ways. They cause various symptoms including memory loss or decline in motor skills. Each part of the brain has a different function, so these varied symptoms depend on what region the disease affects. Alzheimer’s affects the areas of the brain focused on memory and language. In the areas that control movement, Parkinson’s disease inhibits dopamine production preventing your brain from communicating with your body. While Alzheimer’s leads to cognitive impairment, patients with Parkinson’s may not always develop dementia, a general decline in mental ability. Currently, we can perform a PET scan to see indications of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Each Line of Progression with Symptoms

Alzheimer’s Disease: Mild- Severe

Mild (early stage)

  • Issues with recalling names
  • Problems performing tasks in group settings
  • Trouble planning-organizing
  • Misplacing objects
  • Forgetting newly learned information

Moderate (middle stage)

  • Forgetting memories
  • Changes in mood (often more withdrawn) and behavior (seen in repetition)
  • Confusion about time and location
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Severe (late stage)

  • Loss of independence in daily activities
  • Decreased awareness of experience and location
  • Decreasing mobility
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Increasing vulnerability to disease

Parkinson’s Disease: Hoehn and Yahr scale

One and Two (early stage)

  • Tremor and rigidity
  • Changes in posture and gait
  • Facial expression changes
  • Daily tasks are independent but more challenging

Three (middle stage)

  • Loss of balance
  • Slow movement
  • Falling is more common
  • Daily activities are independent, but significantly impaired

Four and five (advanced stage)

  • Requires a walker or wheelchair for mobility
  • Stiffness in all parts on the body
  • Loss of independence in daily activities
  • May experience hallucinations or delusions among other non-motor symptoms

What to Expect for Your PET Scan

The procedure begins with an injection of small amounts of radioactive tracer. It will cling to the clusters in question for the scan to detect. This is relatively painless, so do not worry. We will then have you lie down onto a table that will slide you into the PET/CT scanner. Because you are in this position for an extended amount of time, some patients have found this period uncomfortable. Our technologists will do everything we can to make you comfortable.

Cognitive Impairment Beyond Alzheimer’s

Cognitive impairment is not associated with a single disease or cause, despite Alzheimer’s accounting for a majority of diagnoses. Some other causes include: stroke, traumatic brain injury, and developmental disabilities. A cognitive impairment diagnosis does have a larger range. It is described from mild to severe with symptoms for MCI including noticing your memory slip and severe cognitive impairment including the loss of independence and comprehension. Please reach out to a doctor if you have any concerns. Some other symptoms may include:

  • Trouble remembering people/places or recalling memories
  • Issues concentrating or learning new things
  • Feeling overwhelmed by decision making
  • Failing to exercise proper judgment in  an emergency
  • Mood and behavior changes

What to Expect for Your MRI Scan

Our advanced technology has allowed us to cut the standard scan time in half, so your scan should take approximately 10-15 minutes, making us the Orlando’s best MRI imaging center. We will then have you change into a hospital gown. Now, we will insert an IV into your arm and have you lie down on the table for the scan. From there, the table will move into the MRI machine. You will need to lie very still for the images.

On a side note, avoid wearing jewelry that can interfere with the exam. If you wear hearing aids, we will ask you to remove them for the scan. If you have a pacemaker of aneurysm clips, you cannot receive an MRI. We can provide you with medicine if you are anxious or claustrophobic, but you will need to have someone drive you home.

Life After Your Diagnosis

We know the days after a diagnosis can be challenging and full of questions and emotions. Find some support there are many people with common experiences out in your community or online. Both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s have understanding online communities and local events. The Alzheimer’s Association even provides a hotline at 1.800.272.3900. Be prepared to make more long term decisions with your family involving care and treatment. Know that you also have a team of doctors here to help you along with family and friends.

For any questions or concerns, please contact either of our offices at (352) 753-2660 or (407) 363-2772. If you would like to schedule an appointment, you can streamline your visit online here with us today!