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Computerized program improves processing speed in people with MS, in new study funded by National MS Society

May 17, 2022

A study testing a computer program was found to improve information processing speed in a group of people with MS, and the benefits were maintained six months later. If confirmed in  further studies, this effort could offer up a pathway to helping to restore cognitive function in people with MS. The researchers from the Kessler Foundation in West Orange, NJ, were funded by a research grant from the National MS Society.
  • Background: People with MS may experience cognitive problems, including reductions in processing speed, which is the time required to mentally process and react to information in one’s environment. Reduced processing speed can affect work and social activities. A treatment program known as Speed of Processing Training (SOPT) has been shown to improve processing speed in older adults. SOPT is a computer program that involves repeated practice of tasks addressing processing speed and attention, which gradually increase in difficulty.
  • Study Details: Kessler researchers randomly assigned 71 people with MS who had reduced processing speed to complete SOPT or a control program involving no training. One-hour sessions were completed twice a week for 10 weeks. The primary outcome measured was change in processing speed, which was assessed before and after the program, and six months later.
  • Results: Of 71 participants included in the final analysis, 37 were in the treatment group and 34 in the control group. Processing speed improved significantly more in the group who received the SOPT training than in those using the control program. Participants who completed more difficulty levels showed greater benefits. The benefit was maintained at six months.
Future research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of SOPT in people with different subtypes of MS, including progressive MS.

Learn more…
Listen to RealTalk MS podcasts on Getting that Cognitive Assessment and Managing Your Cognitive Health in MS

The efficacy of speed of processing training for improving processing speed in individuals with multiple sclerosis: a randomized clinical trial” by Nancy D. Chiaravalloti, Silvana L. Costa, Nancy B. Moore, Kristen Costanza & John DeLuca is published in Journal of Neurology (Published: 12 February 2022).
 

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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