Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms and Prognosis

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Recently, Robin Williams, one of my favorite comic actors, committed suicide. During his autopsy, Lewy bodies were found in his brain. In addition, reports are that he also suffered from Parkinson's disease. Since his death, there has been a growing interest in Lewy body dementia (referred to as LBD throughout the rest of this article), and some individuals suggest his suicide was caused by his disease(s). The following is a brief over view of Lewy body disease that may explain why such speculation about Robin Williams occurred.

In general, there are two main types of LBD; doctors and researchers use the "one year rule" to diagnose LBD; if cognitive symptoms appear within a year of movement problems, the diagnosis is dementia with Lewy bodies, but if cognitive problems develop more than a year after the onset of movement problems, the diagnosis is Parkinson's disease dementia. These diagnoses are usually made by a neurologist. LBD disease is also termed dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) in the medical literature.

LBD is a progressive and degenerative disease of the brain caused by the presence of Lewy bodies, abnormal proteins that disrupt communication among brain cells. Lewy bodies were first noted in autopsy brains from patients with Parkinson's disease in 1914 by Frederick Lewy. LBD is a progressive disease so identifiable stages are not present; however, there has been mention in the literature of "early-stage" and "late stage" symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2014