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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 99-103

Neuropsychological functioning in Wernicke's encephalopathy

1 Department of Clinical Psychology, Mental Health Institute, SCB Medical College, Cuttack, Odisha, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Centre of Excellence, Mental Health Institute, SCB Medical College, Cuttack, Odisha, India

Correspondence Address:
Sarada Prasanna Swain
Department of Psychiatry, Centre of Excellence, Mental Health Institute, SCB Medical College, Cuttack - 753 007, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-6748.160953

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Context: Wernicke's encephalopathy (WE) is caused by thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency and most commonly found in chronic alcoholism and malnutrition. Clinically, the key features are mental status disturbances (global confusion), oculomotor abnormalities, and gait disturbances (ataxia). Apart from these clinical features, we can find deficits in neuropsychological functioning in patients with WE, which is more prominent after the improvement in the physical conditions. Neuropsychological functioning includes both basic cognitive processes (i.e., attention-concentration) as well as higher order cognitive processes (i.e., memory, executive functioning, reasoning), which is much vital for the maintenance of quality of life of an individual. However, unfortunately, in most of the cases, neuropsychological functioning is ignored by the clinicians. Materials and Methods: In this study four case reports of WE have been presented. The patients were taken from the outdoor department of Mental Health Institute, S.C.B. Medical College, Cuttack, Odisha. Neuropsychological functioning was measured by administration of PGIBBD and Quality of Life was measured by WHO-QOL BREF Odia Version. Discussion: As described in the literature, among the three cardinal signs ( global confusion, ataxia, and ocular sings), the first two were present in all cases, but nystagmus was present in only two cases.Memory dysfunction was so disabling that the persons were unable to maintain a good Quality of Life and occupational impairment was prominent. There are disturbances in recent, remote memory, immediate recall, delayed recall, and attention and concentration, ultimately creating both physical and mental disability. PGI-BBD findings also suggest the overall impairment in neuropsychological functioning other than memory, that is, executive functioning, visual acuity, and depth perception. Findings of WHO-QOL BREF suggest the impairment of four domains of QOL in all the cases, but the severity level varies from person to person. Conclusion: Like the three cardinal features, neuropsychological dysfunction in WE should be given importance, which is a most vital component for the maintenance of QOL. As a result, the disability produced by this condition can be well managed.

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