Processing training has sustained benefits for individuals with MS  

May 25, 2022
Researchers found significant improvement in processing speed for people with multiple sclerosis following a five-week, 10-session training intervention. They also found the treatment effect was maintained at a six-month follow up.

Cognitive dysfunction affects as many as 70 percent of people with MS. The most common deficit in cognitive function affects processing speed, which adversely affects performance of tasks of daily living – including household chores, driving, and using public transportation – and contributes to the high employment among people with MS. Effective ways to improve processing speed in this population have the potential to enhance outcomes.

In a trial by Kessler Foundation researchers, a total of 84 individuals with MS and impaired processing speed were randomized to treatment or placebo groups; final data analyses were based on 71 participants. All participants underwent neuropsychological evaluation and assessment of everyday cognitive function at baseline and at follow up immediately after the five-week, 10-session speed-of-processing training, and again six months later.

Researchers reported significant improvement in processing speed in the treatment group. They found that treatment dosage was linked to improvement. That is, participants who completed more levels within each training task showed greater benefits. Another important finding was the sustained benefit at the six-month follow up regardless of whether the person received booster sessions. 

The authors noted that future research is needed to evaluate long-term efficacy of speed-of-processing training in people with different subtypes of MS, including progressive MS.

The article was published in Journal of Neurology.

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