This webinar on Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS): A Review for Clinical, Forensic, and Legal Professionals is presented by Dr. Jerrod Brown. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS) is a condition caused by a thiamine (B1 vitamin) deficiency and is most commonly marked by the co-occurrence of two closely associated neurological disorders called Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is characterized by ophthalmoplegia (i.e., eye movement disturbances), dementia, and ataxia (i.e., abnormal stance and walking) whereas Korsakoff’s syndrome is typified by apathy, confabulation, delusional tendencies, disorientation, memory loss, mental processing deficits, and personality changes. Overrepresented in certain at-risk populations (e.g., alcohol-dependent individuals, long-term homeless), WKS presents unique challenges and significant management problems for health care, mental health, and criminal justice professionals. These obstacles are often exacerbated when individuals with WKS are not accurately identified and responsively treated, which has distinct implications for family members and the child welfare, mental health, and criminal justice systems. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS) is a clinically complex disorder that has catastrophic, and sometimes fatal, effects if not diagnosed and treated during its early stages. Greater awareness among caregivers and professionals may be one of the best ways to reduce future incidents of WKS and its associated brain damages.
In this 90-minute presentation, participants acquire knowledge from the latest research literature in five key areas. First, the presentation provides overviews of the historical and etiological (i.e., Thiamine deficiency) origins of WKS. Second, the presentation highlights the risk factors, autopsy results, red flag indicators, and deficits (e.g., executive functioning and memory) commonly associated with the disorder. Third, participants learn about the difficulties of routine screenings for WKS in clinical and forensic populations along with ways to limit missed, under, and misdiagnosis of WKS by accounting for co-occurring conditions (e.g., substance use disorders). Fourth, the presentation examines the impact of WKS on victimization and participation in the criminal justice system (e.g., competency to stand trial, confabulation, and suggestibility) via a review of relevant case studies. Finally, the webinar concludes with a discussion of current gaps in knowledge and recommendations for future research.
The principal aim of this webinar is to familiarize mental health and legal professionals with WKS and its unique challenges and significant management problems for health care, mental health, and criminal justice professionals. Through a review of the current research and case law, participants are trained in five key topics:
- Describe the historical and etiological origins of WKS
- Describe the risk factors, autopsy results, red flag indicators, and deficits commonly associated with the disorder
- Describe the difficulties of routine screenings for WKS in clinical and forensic populations along with ways to limit missed, under, and misdiagnosis of WKS
- Describe the impact of WKS on victimization and participation in the criminal justice system via a review of relevant case studies
- Describe the current gaps in knowledge and recommendations for future research
This webinar is relevant for mental health professionals and legal professionals who want to understand how WKS can impact a defendant’s competence-related abilities, including those working in forensic, clinical, criminal justice, health care, social service, and educational settings. This webinar is for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level professionals.