Although we are making great strides toward understanding the cause of MS and finding more effective treatments, people with the disease continue to face daily challenges while coping with its unpredictable effects and symptoms. An important aspect of the Society’s research program is to understand how MS impacts psychosocial aspects of people’s lives – not only how it impacts those with the disease, but their family members and friends as well. About half of people with multiple sclerosis may experience some degree of cognitive dysfunction , affecting the ability to think, reason, concentrate or remember.
Recently funded projects in this area ask questions such as:
- How does MS impacts mental and emotional functioning?
- What are the best ways to treat the depression that often comes with MS?
- What are the best strategies for coping with employment issues?
- What techniques can improve learning and memory for everyday activities?
- To what extend and at what rate do mild cognitive deficits change or progress over time?
A few examples of funded projects focusing on psychosocial issues in MS:
- The National MS Society’s Fast Forward drug development subsidiary is partnering with Accera, Inc., and the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine in a clinical trial to determine potential benefits of Accera’s medical food, Axona® (caprylic triglyceride), on cognitive impairment in people with MS. Read more here.
- People with multiple sclerosis often report worse symptoms when the weather is hot. A recent study concludes that hot weather may also worsen the ability to perform mental tasks in some people with MS. The research, which needs further exploration, may help people plan activities and may improve the design of future clinical trials. Read more here.
- A team funded by the National MS Society found evidence that depression is linked to brain volume loss in specific subregions of an area of the brain called the “hippocampus,” which is known to be important in memory. Tissue loss in this area was linked as well with abnormal secretion patterns of the stress-related hormone cortisol. The results warrant further study to determine any cause-effect relationship, but are an important clue to a symptom that can interfere greatly with the quality of life of people with MS. The results also hint that this shrinkage may be reversible with effective treatment of depression in MS. Read more here.