ECAS on the road: training MND healthcare professionals

Sharon Abrahams delivering a masterclass to a room full of health professionals.

Dec 2017: Professor Sharon Abrahams and Faith Hodgins are delivering training on the ‘Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioural ALS Screen’ (ECAS) .

Professor Sharon Abrahams and Faith Hodgins have been delivering a training programme on how to use the ‘Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioural ALS Screen’ (ECAS) to MND healthcare professionals.

Cognitive symptoms

Approximately 50% of people living with MND experience changes in cognition (thinking, learning, language and memory) and behaviour. The importance of assessing people for these changes has been incorporated into recent NICE guidelines on the assessment and management of MND.

Euan MacDonald Centre member Professor Sharon Abrahams and colleagues have developed the Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioural ALS Screen’ (ECAS). The ECAS provides a brief assessment of cognitive functions and behavioural symptoms. It can be undertaken in written or spoken form, making it suitable for people with physical disability.

Delivering training

This year, more healthcare professionals in the UK have been trained to assess patients for changes in cognition and behaviour than ever before.  Professor Abrahams and Faith Hodgins have travelled across the country, training MND Clinical Nurse Specialists in Scotland and 245 healthcare professionals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sharon and Faith collaborated with Rachel Boothman (Head of Education) and Steve Bell (Deputy Director of Care) from the Motor Neurone Disease Association to develop the ENCALS-certified training programme. This was advertised to qualified healthcare professionals as a masterclass in ‘Using the Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioural ALS Screen (ECAS) to assess change in Motor Neurone Disease’.

The delivery of this ECAS training programme is an essential component of a wider project to develop pathways to cognitive and behavioural screening for patients with MND. This project is funded by the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Evaluating impact

Sharon and Faith will be evaluating the uptake of screening, following the delivery of this nationwide training programme. They are also exploring the impact of the ECAS on the delivery of care, as well as the perceptions of patients and carers.

Related links

Research case study: The Edinburgh Cognitive ALS Screen

Healthcare professionals seeking further information about the ECAS tool can visit the ECAS website at

This article was published on: Thursday, December 07, 2017