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Singapore: Digital Tools Transform ADHD Diagnosis

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Digital technology provides innovative tools and platforms that improve the diagnostic process of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by providing objective measurements, improving data collecting and analysis, enabling remote assessments, and promoting collaborative care. These developments help to improve the accuracy and efficiency of ADHD diagnosis and management.

Professor Roger Ho, Principal Investigator at the NUS Institute for Health Innovation and Technology (iHealthtech), and his team developed a battery of tests to improve the present ADHD diagnosing procedure and make it more objective.

ADHD, he claims, is one of the most common childhood diseases that typically persists into adulthood. While ADHD is a curable condition, it is often misdiagnosed in adults. Conventional methods of diagnosing ADHD make it difficult for clinicians to identify if someone has ADHD since it needs self-reporting of symptoms, which can be subjective and exaggerated at times.

The researchers devised a new set of three objective tests, including an infrared brain scan, an eye tracker test, and a continuous performance test. These assessments were developed to be used in conjunction with the standard clinical interviews and self-report questionnaires completed by a medical professional.

Prof Roger and his colleagues began working on this new objective ADHD diagnostic technique in June 2021, when they investigated whether infrared brain scans could determine whether an adult has ADHD.

“Psychiatry is the only medical discipline that diagnoses patients without objective diagnostic tools,” he noted. “So, the brain scan and eye tracker are analogous to the prick test. There has a predetermined and objective value. That cannot be changed. If your score is less than or close to this, you may have ADHD.”

Since July 2022, the research team has used the new diagnostic technique on around 250 persons at iHealthtech, with 240 of them being diagnosed with ADHD. The research team cited that the majority of these individuals had been suffering from ADHD symptoms for years before consulting for a diagnosis.

The client will undergo an infrared brain scan to assess the oxygen level in the brain while undertaking easy mental tasks as part of the three objective tests. Lower oxygen levels in the frontal lobe of the brain are frequent in adults with ADHD. The customer will next be asked to look at or away from a dot on the screen, which will be measured using an eye tracker.

Adults with ADHD may take longer to react or may turn to look in the wrong direction when given instructions. Finally, the client will be subjected to the Conners’ Continuous Performance Test to uncover any problems with brain and hand synchronisation. People with a moderate to high risk of ADHD are more likely to make mistakes or have irregular reaction times.

The entire ADHD assessment will take approximately 90 minutes. Each of the three objective tests has a 70% accuracy rate, which contributes to the total accuracy of the ADHD diagnosis procedure. The patient will obtain a diagnostic report following the entire testing process.

The team is currently aiming to increase the use of these ADHD diagnostic techniques in adults in underdeveloped countries such as Vietnam.

Further, digital applications and software are available to aid in the assessment and management of ADHD. These tools may include cognitive training exercises, behaviour-tracking apps, and organisational aids that assist individuals in improving attention, time management, and executive functioning.

Digital technology allows for remote consultation and collaboration among healthcare professionals, enabling a multidisciplinary approach to ADHD diagnosis and treatment. Specialists in different fields can share information, review assessments, and provide comprehensive care to patients.


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