Korsakoff’s Syndrome

Korsakoff’s syndrome is a brain disorder that is generally associated with heavy drinking sustained over a long period of time.  In recent years it was referred to as Korsakoff’s psychosis, however this is confusing as korsakoff’s has no medical psychotic symptoms.  It is caused by a lack of Thiamine (Vitamin B1), which affects the brain and nervous system.  Many heavy drinkers have poor eating habits and an inadequate diet resulting in lack of essential vitamins.  Alcohol can also cause the stomach lining to inflame making it harder for the body to absorb these essential vitamins.

Korsakoff’s syndrome is the chronic form of Wernicke’s encephalopathy and is sometime referred to as alcohol related brain damage or dementia (ARBD).  Korsakoff’s may result if Wernicke’s encephalopathy is not treated or is not detected in time.  It is not easily resolved and can continue over a long period of time, even permanently.  Damage occurs to small but important areas in the middle part of the brain, causing severe short-term memory loss.  This memory loss is the most significant feature of the condition and many other abilities remain unaffected.  This is where Korsakoff’s differs from most types of dementia, where there is often damage to a large area of the outer part of the brain.  Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with taking on board new information or developing new skills
  • Lack of insight into their memory loss, where even someone with significant gaps in their memory may believe that they are functioning normally
  • Apathy or repetitive behaviours
  • Confabulation; where someone fills out the gaps in their memory with elaborate fantasies.

Notaro ARBD (Alcohol Related Brain Damage) Care do not offer detoxification but instead provide a way forward to rebuild people’s life skills, helping them to return to an independent life in the community, although this may not always be an option if the individuals condition is too serve.  In this case we are able to offer a home for life To view these homes, Vane Hill, Serenita or Campania, please click here.

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