LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A local company is working to help diagnose Alzheimer's in its earliest stages.

By putting the Cognision System on a person's head, physicians and scientists could get a better sense of what's happening in their brain. The device was developed in Louisville by the company Neuronetrix.

Data collected by the system could be used to help diagnose disorders like schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer's disease.

"Not only is there a need for this research, there's a need for this product in the clinic," said Neuronetrix President and CEO K.C. Fadem.

After a three year clinical research study, the company is seeking FDA approval for the device.

"We're targeting this to be used by any physician who sees elderly patients and might be diagnosing patients with Alzheimer's disease," Fadem said.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates there are more than 5 million Americans living with the disease and costs for caring for those with Alzheimer's totaled $203 billion in the nation last year.

Fadem says the Cognision System could help detect Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages and help pharmaceutical companies determine if their treatments are working. The entire process for a patient would only take 15 to 20 minutes.

"We collect signals while the subject is performing a task and listening to some auditory stimuli, the subject wears a headset and is asked to perform a task while they hear a tone," said the company's director of clinical research, Marco Cecchi.

The company says the device could show the difference between normal brainwave profiles and those of someone who has a cognitive disorder. For those with concussions, it could help doctors get a better handle on how fast a patient is healing.

"What you'd like to be able to measure, is that the brain actually has sustained an injury and measure the extent of that injury so that you know how long it'll take the brain to recover from that -- and that's what right now is missing," Fadem said.

That's the reason he says the Cognision System has been used by the US Army in Afghanistan. In fact, the device has already been sent to four continents for research prior to approval for use in a clinical setting.

"There's a number of companies that have attempted to develop a product like this in the past unsuccessfully and we have been fortunate that we've developed a product that we have been using in clinical trials and we've demonstrated that it works, getting the data that we expected, that we hoped for," Fadem said.

Over the next few months, the company will also be analyzing data from that long term clinical research study, and preparing it for publication.

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