Beyond Thiamine: Treatment for Cognitive Impairment in Korsakoff's Syndrome.
BACKGROUND: Wernicke's encephalopathy is a condition whose treatment many consultation-liaison psychiatrists know quite well. Less clear, however, is the treatment of its dementia disorder descendent, the Korsakoff's syndrome (KS). OBJECTIVE: This article seeks to review treatment options and provide recommendations for consultation-liaison psychiatrists treating cognitive impairment in KS. METHODS: In this nonsystematic review, we reviewed PubMed, CINAHL Plus, and Google Scholar for published reports and studies regarding treatment of KS. RESULTS: The literature revealed case reports and placebo-controlled trials of various medications for treatment of KS, though the samples sizes were small and were mostly case reports. There is more attention devoted toward medications used in other dementia disorders, such as donepezil and memantine. The literature revealed more studies around behavioral interventions recommended for treatment of memory impairment in KS and they focused on cognitive remediation and environmental adaptation, such as the use of PDAs or alarms. CONCLUSIONS: There is no single, well-studied intervention proven effective as a primary treatment for cognitive impairment in KS. An approach of using environmental modifications in a well-structured living environment, combined with various cognitive interventions, such as pictorial associations, and perhaps a trial of donepezil or memantine, likely represents the best strategy for treating long-term cognitive impairment in KS.
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