(RxWiki News) Multiple Sclerosis (MS) damages the nervous systems of the brain and spinal cord. This leads to many symptoms, most notably cognitive decline. However a new rehab program may be able to help.
Patients with relapsing-remitting MS, the most common type of the disease, were enrolled in a 12 week computer-aided rehabilitation program. These patients showed improvement in their cognitive abilities while patients who did not receive treatment showed no improvement.
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Massimo Filippi, M.D., professor of neurology at the San Raffaele Vita-Salute University, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the patients.
“These results prompt the use of specific computer-based rehabilitation programs to treat deficits in selected neuropsychological domains in patients with relapsing-remitting MS,” says Filippi. “They also suggest that fMRI might provide useful metrics to monitor the effects of rehab in MS.”
20 patients with relapsing-remitting MS were separated into 2 groups of 10. The first group received the computer-aided rehab, while the second did not. All patients had a neuropsychological assessment and MRI before and after the study.
After 12 weeks the patients who had rehab showed cognitive improvements in tests for atention, information processing, and executive functions. These findings were backed up by a change in brain activity as measured by the fMRI scans.
Patients who did not receive treatment did not show any improvement or change.
The rehab program included activities of day-planning, which involved a realistic schedule and assessed patients ability to organize and plan events, and a train driving simulation that provided distractions with increasing difficulty.
The study was published in the March 2012 edition of the journal Radiology and was funded through general University funds.