What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has gained a lot of press of late due to the problematic symptoms of sufferers, such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour, in addition to the long reaching effects that it has on families, friends and teachers. Approximately 1 in 10 Australian children have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Unfortunately, even with heightened community awareness, the disorder is still difficult to assess with reliability and there is a related high concern of misdiagnosis. Prescriptions for stimulants, such as Ritalin, have increased 21-fold in Australia during the past decade.
A project, funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, serves to provide objective brain function markers of ADHD, employing IBM systems to manage the large volumes of data and complex processes, which could not be achieved manually.
The intended result? An analytical tool that will enable the medical community to make better diagnostic and treatment decisions for ADHD.Consortium announces new approach to treat ADHD
A new national consortium of scientists and industry partners today announced a collaborative project funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant to more reliably profile Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.
The recently formed National ADHD Consortium involving scientists and clinicians from Flinders University, Swinburne University's Brain Sciences Institute, Westmead Hospital and Sydney University, is joined by industry partners the Brain Resource Company (BRC) and IBM.
The study is focused on minimising misdiagnosis of ADHD and promoting further understanding by providing reliable markers of the disorder. Ultimately, this will help doctors to provide the best possible care for patients, as individuals.
A critical aspect of this project is the use of the BRC's neuroinformatics approach, with the employment of IBM systems to manage the large volumes of data and complex processes, which could not be achieved manually.
Around one in ten Australian children are diagnosed with ADHD, with behavioural features including inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour. Stimulant medication, such as Ritalin, is the primary treatment for ADHD, prescribed for 60-90% of sufferers. While Ritalin has been shown as effective in improving the behavioural symptoms of ADHD, knowledge remains limited about which functional brain systems are affected by the disorder and how exactly the medication works.
As prescriptions for stimulants such as Ritalin have increased 21-fold in Australia during the past decade and there is some concern of misdiagnosis, doctors require specific and comprehensive diagnostic and treatment assessment tools.
Studies need to identify and analyse both psychological and biological markers characterising ADHD in order to fully understand the disorder.
"The study will create an analytical tool that will enable the medical community to make better diagnostic and treatment decisions," said Richard Clark, National ADHD Consortium Co-ordinator. "After running simple diagnostic tests, doctors will be able to profile ADHD more reliably and decide which children should, or should not, be given pharmaceutical.
treatment. The research will also be able to assist doctors with accurately prescribing medication to those sufferers who need it. This will not only benefit sufferers of ADHD, but will be a positive step for parents and teachers as well."
Tony Palanca, Manager of Life Sciences, IBM ANZ said: "IBM is proud to provide the technological capability, in partnership with the Brain Resource Company, for this groundbreaking project. With information technology now so inextricably linked to life sciences research, IBM has developed well defined computer infrastructure for expediting the discovery process. Working together, we are supporting the practice of medicine in a way that is proving to be a significant driver for improved healthcare."