New Machine Helps Identify ADD, ADHD


health-watchAttention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, may affect as many as one in ten people in the US, often with a devastating impact on their education, employment, and their entire lives. An ADD diagnosis can be difficult to make, but a new machine is designed to help make that process easier.

“I couldn’t concentrate on my work, I couldn’t read the textbook, you know, for more than 20 minutes at a time,” student Maya Nobis said.

Nobis had been having those problems at school for most of her life, but it was when she began attending NYU that it really became a problem. That’s when she sought out a diagnosis.

“All of my diagnoses were very wishy-washy,” Nobis said. “I kind of had a part of everything, which was a little bit weird to me.”

Part of the problem is how the diagnosis for ADD or ADHD is made.

“Interviewing the parents and the children, and having them fill out paper checklists, which are symptom checklists about their ability to sustain attention – their ability to restrain their impulses, their ability to sit still,” Dr. Thor Bergersen, of the Hallowell Center, said.

But because there aren’t enough qualified child psychiatrists, the diagnoses are often made by pediatricians who may not have the experience to make an accurate diagnosis.

That where a new machine, called the Quotient system, comes in. The 20-minute test is designed to be boring – that’s when people with ADD have the most trouble concentrating.

In addition to accuracy, the test also measures head and leg motion with special sensors. The machine then quickly generates reports that have been validated by the Harvard researchers that developed the Quotient.

However, it’s still only one tool.

“We still have to talk to the parents, talk to the children, and gather information and put it together with the results that we get from that test,” Dr. Bergersen said.

“To be able to read and be like, ‘this is what’s going on with me, and this is how we know – because we just did this test and it’s showing us that’ – that would be totally helpful, I think,” Nobis said.

Another advantage of the Quotient system is that if a patient is put on ADD medication, the machine can be used to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment, giving parents and children an objective way to measure their progress.

The test costs around $125, and is covered by some insurance plans.

{CBS Broadcasting Inc./Noam Newscenter}