Experts at Kessler Foundation report the results of a randomized controlled trial to target deficits of processing speed in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) and showed improvement through the application of speed-of-processing training.

Their article, “The efficacy of speed of processing training for improving processing speed in individuals with multiple sclerosis: A randomized clinical trial,” was published recently in Journal of NeurologyThe authors are Nancy D. Chiaravalloti, PhD, Silvana L. Costa, PhD, Nancy B. Moore, MA, Kristen Costanza, and John DeLuca, PhD, of Kessler Foundation.

Cognitive dysfunction affects as many as 70% of people with MS. The most common deficit in cognitive function impacts 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.

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 (Treatment, 37; Placebo, 34). 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.

“We saw significant improvement in processing speed in the treatment group,” says Dr. Chiaravalloti, director of the Centers for Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, and Traumatic Brain Injury Research. “Moreover, we found that treatment dosage correlated with 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,” Chiaravalloti notes, “regardless of whether the person received booster sessions. Future research is needed to evaluate long-term efficacy of speed-of-processing training in people with different subtypes of MS, including progressive MS.”

[Source(s): Kessler Foundation, EurekAlert]