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Schizophrenia and cognitive impairments

Schizophrenia is a very disruptive condition that can impact the lives of its sufferers in some very major ways.

For one, schizophrenia sufferers can end up suffering from hallucinations. There are, thankfully, medications out there that are aimed at helping to treat this particular symptom of schizophrenia.

One shortcoming of such medications though is that they generally do not help with one of the other major symptoms that schizophrenia sufferers often experience: cognitive impairments (like memory difficulties). Cognitive difficulties can sometimes make performing certain tasks difficult or impossible. Thus, even when a person with schizophrenia is receiving medications for hallucinations and such medications are effective for them, they could still end up facing impairments that could potentially affect their ability to hold a steady job. 

If they meet certain eligibility requirements, schizophrenia sufferers who are unable to work due to schizophrenia-related cognitive impairments or other schizophrenia symptoms may be able to receive Social Security disability benefits. Attorneys can help schizophrenia sufferers who have been impaired by their condition look into whether they would have a strong claim for such benefits. 

A recent study indicates that there may be a treatment type that could help schizophrenia sufferers with cognitive difficulties related to their condition. The treatment type in question is known as transcranial direct current stimulation. This procedure involves having a brain undergo light electrical stimulation. 

In the study, 11 people were given this treatment. Five of the individuals were schizophrenia sufferers. The other six individuals were close relatives of the schizophrenia sufferers. Close relatives of schizophrenia sufferers sometimes show lesser versions of some of the brain abnormalities that schizophrenia sufferers often display. 

Cognitive function tests were given to the participants during and after the administration of the treatment. The study found that the participants showed improved performance on working memory tests and some subtle improvements when it came to word retrieval. 

Now, this study had a very small sample size, so sweeping conclusions can't really be drawn from it. However, it does at least point to the possibility that the treatment could help when it comes to schizophrenia-related cognitive impairments.

Another study is underway involving this treatment that has a larger sample size. It will be interesting to see if that study, once completed, will have results similar to the above-mentioned small study. 

Source: PsychCentral, "In Schizophrenia, Weak Electric Current to Brain May Improve Thinking," Traci Pedersen, May 30, 2015

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