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'This is Us' character's diagnosis is real life for Wisconsin man

Posted at 7:28 AM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 08:35:55-05

MILTON — *SPOILER ALERT: If you are not caught up on the hit NBC series 'This Is Us,' bookmark this story for later.*

Rebecca, a character played by Mandy Moore, was recently diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or MCI.

TMJ4 News spoke to a Milton, Wis. man who has the same diagnosis in real life, as well as his doctor who believes this story line could change lives.

Robert Pickett says it took 15 years before he was finally diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

"Think of MCI as that's the umbrella, the umbrella term that we will use for someone who has a thinking change underneath. That is Alzheimer's or having a stroke or Parkinson's Disease or depression," said Dr. Nathaniel Chin with UW Health in Madison.

Pickett relates to how this diagnosis affects the rest of the Pearson family on the show.

"The person who gets harmed the most by this is my wife," he said. "There are times where I will ask her the same question five times within a 20 to 40-minute period."

Chin says the memory test Rebecca went through is meant to be long and frustrating, such as drawing a clock from memory.

"There are specific times that we do ask because they're trickier than others," said Dr. Chin. "What she's [Rebecca's] experiencing is more significant than that earlier part of mild cognitive impairment."

Pickett is hoping to keep his condition stabilized by grading himself each day on how he's keeping up with doctor's orders, which includes meditation.

An all new episode of 'This is Us' airs Tuesday's at 8 p.m. on TMJ4.

UW Health offers free MCI community classes. The next one will be March 28. Click here to sign up and learn more.

In addition to the classes, the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at UW Health has several research studies with MCI participants and researchers need more people to volunteer for studies with MCI. If you're interested, call (608) 265-0407.

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