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UT Southwestern doctors track Oklahoma Alzheimer's patients via telemedicine

DALLAS Feb. 10, 2005 Checking on Alzheimer's patients miles away is now as close as a simple satellite linkup.

Doctors in UT Southwestern Medical Center's Alzheimer's Disease Center are using telemedicine for follow-up appointments with patients in the Choctaw Nation, an American Indian population in southeastern Oklahoma. The Alzheimer's Disease Center is the only one in the country studying the clinical and scientific aspects of dementia in the American Indians.

"After finding out that the Choctaw Nation had a video-conferencing setup, we thought this might be a better way to serve the population," said Dr. Myron Weiner, professor of psychiatry and neurology and a specialist in age-related dementia.

Dr. Weiner said this is the first time the Alzheimer's Disease Center at UT Southwestern has used telemedicine as a way of seeing patients for periodic checkups. It's also one of the first of 32 National Institutes of Health-funded Alzheimer's Disease Centers across the United States to use telemedicine.

The National Institute on Aging has funded research at UT Southwestern since 1991 examining patterns of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory loss in American Indian populations. In one of these, patients are more than 200 miles away from their doctors.

"After the initial diagnosis is made, it is not necessary to have follow-up, face-to-face meetings with patients, which is why the telemedicine link has made it very efficient for us to track patients' progress. We think this is a model that other Alzheimer's Disease Centers could be able to use across the country," said Dr. Roger Rosenberg, director of UT Southwestern's Center, and holder of the Abe (Brunky), Morris and William Zale Distinguished Chair in Neurology.

UT Southwestern doctors visit Talihina, Okla., four times a year to diagnose any new cases of Alzheimer's-related memory loss or other types of dementia within the Choctaw community. Dr. Weiner first used the sat
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Contact: Katherine Morales
katherine.morales@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
10-Feb-2005


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