Cognitive dysfunction is a common, often scary, symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. Cognitive evaluation techniques and neurorehabilitation studies have been used to greatly improve the dysfunction. A new brain fitness software by CogniFit Inc. May help improve cognitive function and skills of multiple sclerosis patients.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes lesions in the brain and nervous system. It is reported that about 50% of people with MS admit to experiencing cognitive problems, such as the ability to pay attention, learn and remember information, solve problems, and use language to express ideas. Mood disorders and depression are also common which can exacerbate the cognition process.
Some of the specific cognitive deficits observed in people with MS are:
• Memory Dysfunction. This is the most commonly reported cognitive dysfunction in MS and occurs in 20 to 44% of people with MS. The type of memory deficit most often reported is free recall of recently learned material. Free recall is the ability to get to a memory instantly.
• Verbal fluency is affected in some people with MS whereas verbal comprehension appears undamaged. Verbal fluency deficits usually take the form of slowed free recall of words that describe concepts and less often words that name objects.
• Cognitive Fatigue. On average, people with MS tire more quickly during psychological tests. Patients appear to lose the ability to hold attention for a long period of time.
• Impaired Planning Ability. One study reported that 40% of people with MS are less able to plan things than healthy controls.
The independent study, published in the journal NeuroRehabilitation, found that CogniFit Personal Coach brain training software resulted in a significant improvement in 10 fundamental cognitive skills. Memory skill showed the greatest improvement, with a general increase of 21%. Visual working memory and verbal-auditory working memory improved by 20%. Other skills that showed improvement included naming speed, speed of object recall, focused attention, visuo-motor attention, and visual spatial working memory.
Patients with MS can also use other techniques to help cope with cognitive dysfunction and memory loss:
• Write everything down. Keep a diary, organizer, or notebook handy to make lists. Keep one calendar for all appointments and reminders of special days or tasks.
• Organize the environment so things remain in familiar places, such as a fixed spot for car keys. Encourage all members of the household to do the same.
• With communication, ask people to keep directions and instructions simple. Carry on conversations in a quiet place to minimize distractions and maintain eye contact. Repeat information to ensure it was heard correctly.
• Keep the mind fit by doing puzzles, problem-solving games, etc.
This page is updated on April 18, 2013.