Monitoring Cognitive Decline in Multiple Sclerosis
Many Multiple Sclerosis patients experience a condition referred to as “Cog-Fog”. Cog-Fog varies from person to person but the majority of complaints come in the form of; loss of memory, inability to concentrate, language difficulties, and difficulties with problem solving.
I recently experienced a severe attack of this on a trip to our states capital for work. I’ve driven there many times for meetings but on this particular trip, I suddenly forgot how to get there or why I was going. I pulled out my GPS but when it told me to turn right, I panicked; I couldn’t remember which way was right. Everything came back to me fairly quickly; however, an experience like that leaves you rattled. I reported the episode to my doctor.
Establishing a baseline for cognitive ability is an important part of beginning to understand the extent of the impact of multiple sclerosis on the brain. The Neurologist defers to a Neuropsychologist to do the assessment.
A Neuropsychologist studies the specific structure and function of the brain as it relates to certain processes. This is important to us with MS as it looks at the relationship between the nervous system and cognitive function. Very simplified I know, but it serves the purpose for definition here.
My first experience with cognitive testing took place yesterday. The Wechsler Adult Memory Scale (WMS) involved 3 hours of testing. The test includes; spatial addition, symbol span, design memory, general cognitive screening, logical memory, verbal paired associates, and visual reproduction. A person’s performance is reported as five Index Scores: Auditory Memory, Visual Memory, Visual Working Memory, Immediate Memory, and Delayed Memory.
Scoring for my exam is not yet complete; although, the doctor did say that it was apparent through the course of the exam that I have difficulty with spatial reasoning which is important in learning and problem solving. This is not a normal state for me as I’ve often been accused of “thinking like an engineer”. This is; however, another example of how MS can rob us of our normal selves.
While the prospect of increasing cognitive deficits loom; as a result of this disease, I have hope. There is a possibility of utilizing therapies and tools to fine tune and retrain the brain to cope and still function reasonably well even with a progressive disease such as multiple sclerosis.
Putting together puzzles or using an App such as “Pictorial” is a good way to get started in improving the spatial reasoning function of the brain.
My future holds more cognitive testing and an EEG as well as some new therapies designed to remap the way my brain communicates things. I will continue to add posts on the subject as I learn more.