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What is Korsakoff's syndrome?

Korsakoff’s syndrome, also known as ‘Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome’, is a non-progressive type of dementia which is most commonly caused by chronic alcohol abuse. For this reason, Korsakoff’s syndrome is also widely regarded as being a form of alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD).

How does Korsakoff’s syndrome develop?

Korsakoff’s syndrome is associated with a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine) within the system. Thiamine helps brain cells to produce energy and therefore, when levels of thiamine drop, brain cells are unable to generate enough energy to function properly. This results in the development of Korsakoff’s syndrome and the associated symptoms and problems. Whilst alcoholism is the main cause of this deficiency, it is also possible for other conditions to result in a lack of thiamine within the system and as such, may also lead to Korsakoff’s syndrome. These conditions include:

  • Anorexia and bulimia nervosa
  • Long-term kidney dialysis
  • Chronic infection
  • Cancer that has spread throughout the body
  • Extreme vomiting during pregnancy (morning sickness)

Korsakoff’s syndrome usually develops alongside a condition that is known as Wernicke encephalopathy, which is another illness that is caused by vitamin B1 deficiency. Individuals usually experience Wernicke encephalopathy first, and the symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome typically appear as the Wernicke encephalopathy symptoms subside.

Treatment for Korsakoff’s syndrome at Priory

Priory provides high quality, rehabilitation-focused treatment programmes for those with Korsakoff’s syndrome, as part of our dedicated Brain Injury Services. We can provide expert support, delivered across our specialist sites throughout the UK.

Priory’s Brain Injury Services encompass all aspects of neurorehabilitation, including:

  • Physical
  • Behavioural
  • Cognitive
  • Emotional
  • Communication
  • Social

Treatment is delivered within a broad variety of environments, ranging from hospital settings to transitional living homes. The breadth of the service allows our network to offer comprehensive care pathways, ensuring that all services have consistency in their approach and adhere to national guidelines. 

Korsakoff’s syndrome prognosis
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What are the symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome?
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Enquiries and Referrals

For further information on Priory services offered to the NHS, or to make a referral, please call our dedicated 24/7 customer service centre on 0800 090 1356. Alternatively, click here to submit an enquiry form

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