Cognition in MS Patients: What Can You Do?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, typically progressive disease that attacks the central nervous system. In MS patients, the body’s immune system breaks down the myelin sheath that covers and protects nerve cells.
This results in communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. MS can cause a wide range of cognitive symptoms, from mild problems with attention and focus to more severe impairments such as memory loss and difficulty processing information.
Cognitive symptoms are common in MS, affecting up to 65% of patients.
Proactive steps recommended by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society can help you manage MS-related cognitive deficits and their impact on your quality of life. Cognition testing can be an early step to support your cognitive function.
Cognition testing is used to understand a person’s cognitive capabilities. Cognition tests for MS fall under the umbrella of neuropsychological testing and are designed to:
- Detect brain dysfunction across multiple cognitive areas
- Improve understanding of the changes happening in the brain
- Assist in recommendations for treatment planning
Cognitive rehabilitation therapy can help patients manage their cognitive symptoms and improve their quality of life. It may be performed by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech specialist, neuropsychologist, or a physician, depending on the needs of the individual. This training encompasses two types of rehabilitation: restorative and compensatory. Restorative cognitive rehabilitation works to restore cognitive faculties that have been lost.
Compensatory cognitive rehabilitation can teach people strategies to compensate for cognitive impairment. Usually, therapists will employ both strategies to help people with MS. Examples of restorative cognitive rehabilitation include having a person perform increasingly difficult memory tests to improve their memory.
Exercise may also affect the cognitive changes that can come with multiple sclerosis. Physical activity can reverse some of the condition’s effects on the body. For example, MS leads to damage to the brain and nerve cells, but research shows that exercise helps brain cells regenerate and reorganize.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychological treatment. It focuses on changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, improving emotional self-control, and developing coping strategies for stress and other challenges. CBT can help treat many conditions including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug-use problems.
We’ve looked at some of the cognitive effects of MS and what you can do to combat them. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, employing a variety of these techniques should help improve your cognitive function and daily life. If you have any questions about how to apply these tips or would like more personalized advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Brain Center.
We provide an array of wellness programs both virtual and in person, as well as a team of Neurologists ready to help you in your journey. We hope this information has been helpful and wish you the best in managing your MS.
Phone: +1 (786) 565-8735