New ADHD Test Offers Insight Into How Brain Works, Helps Solve Diagnosis Conflict

by Baylor Scott & White Staff on May 6, 2014

in Medical Information

Child safety program specialist, and mother of four, Erika Van Mastrigt knew the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder all too well when she began noticing impulsive and inattentive behavior in her third child.

“I had him tested with a neurologist at the children’s hospital years ago, and the results came back with some strong symptoms of ADHD,” Van Mastrigt said.

While getting the initial diagnosis helped, the concerned mother couldn’t help thinking that there was more to learn about her son’s brain and how to help him be successful in school and in life.

What Van Mastrigt didn’t know at the time was that pediatrician, Arti Lal, MD, a McLane Children’s pediatrician at Scott & White Cedar Park West Clinic, was working to bring a new ADHD test to the Central Texas area to help patients and their parents navigate the ups and downs that often come with this childhood brain disorder.

“I would see these [ADHD] patients at our ADHD clinic, and I would think, we really need something better to make a diagnosis and manage their medication,” Dr. Lal said. “So, I looked around for a test and I found the [quotient] test.”

The Quotient ADHD Test is a computerized system that collects data about the patient’s ability to control their body, curb impulsive tendencies and respond to images on a computer screen. It can help physicians, parents and teachers see what areas the child is struggling with the most, how to best treat that patient and how much progress they are making.

The test was created by Harvard biopsychiatrist, Dr. Martin Teicher, and has been in use since 2002 in other parts of the country. Dr. Lal helped Scott & White Healthcare become the first healthcare system in the area to implement the use of the test.

Today, the ADHD Clinic located inside the Scott & White Cedar Park West Clinic has administered 22 tests, including one to Van Mastrigt’s 10-year-old son, Kyle.

“This test was very different from other tests we’ve tried in the past,” she said. “It was able to tell us just how impulsive he was. It broadened our views and showed us the areas where our child was having some issues.”

The test is simple and painless and takes just a few minutes.

“The patient sits in front of a computer screen. They wear a little crown on their head which connects to an infrared tracking device in front of the computer. The tracking device has a motion detector and picks up on the motion of the head,” Dr. Lal said. “Dr. Teicher claims that unstable control of head movements and posture is possibly a biological marker for ADHD.”

The computer system calculates how fast the person pressed the button, how distracted they were and if they were disengaged and puts all of the information into figures and graphs that can be printed out for the physician and patient to see.

“[This test] will provide objective data to integrate into our clinic interview and questionnaires,” she said. “In the past, psychiatrists, teachers and caregivers have only had the questionnaires to judge ADHD behaviors. But those tests can be quite subjective depending on how the person perceives the child. This test will help us solve some of those interpersonal conflicts and weed out the kids who really don’t need the medication.”

Van Mastrigt is happy that her son underwent the testing and has already seen positive progress in his ability to control his impulsive tendencies.

“For me, [the test] is an educational tool. It’s something else for me to learn about and help my child,” she said. “It makes my life a little easier because I am able to help my child be more successful. In the end, that’s what we all want.”

For more information about the Quotient ADHD Test, call 512.336.3400.

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