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Occupational therapy study: Improving processing speed seen as key target to help patients with multiple sclerosis


Decreased Activ­i­ty Lev­els in MS Patients Linked To Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis News):

A new study pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Occu­pa­tion­al Ther­a­py assessed the cog­ni­tive fac­tors affect­ed in mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis patients con­cern­ing their activ­i­ty and par­tic­i­pa­tion in every­day life…MS is con­sid­ered the lead­ing cause of dis­abil­i­ty among work­ing age adults, and it can have a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive impact on a patient’s qual­i­ty of life. It is esti­mat­ed that with­in five years after dis­ease diag­no­sis, the rate of employ­ment drops from 90% to 20–30%. In addi­tion, only around 35% of MS patients report nor­mal social and lifestyle activ­i­ties.

The iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of fac­tors linked to the lim­i­ta­tions expe­ri­enced by MS patients may help occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists devel­op effec­tive inter­ven­tion strate­gies. Since cog­ni­tive impair­ment is fre­quent­ly linked to a decline in social par­tic­i­pa­tion and employ­ment, in the study, researchers inves­ti­gat­ed cog­ni­tive fac­tors linked to both activ­i­ty and par­tic­i­pa­tion…

The only vari­able sig­nif­i­cant­ly relat­ed to activ­i­ty and par­tic­i­pa­tion was pro­cess­ing speed,” con­clud­ed the study’s lead author Dr. Yael Goverover in a press release. “For occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists, this means that imple­ment­ing strate­gies that improve pro­cess­ing speed may help peo­ple with MS main­tain their dai­ly activ­i­ties and stay in the work­place. In light of the close asso­ci­a­tion between cog­ni­tive fac­tors and cook­ing, providers should be aware that decline in cook­ing skills may be sign of cog­ni­tive decline in MS.”

Study: Fac­tors That Mod­er­ate Activ­i­ty Lim­i­ta­tion and Par­tic­i­pa­tion Restric­tion in Peo­ple With Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis (Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Occu­pa­tion­al Ther­a­py)

  • Abstract: We exam­ined the vari­ables most asso­ci­at­ed with activ­i­ty lim­i­ta­tion (i.e., cook­ing) and par­tic­i­pa­tion restric­tion (i.e., employ­ment) in 72 peo­ple with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis (MS). Par­tic­i­pants under­went a com­pre­hen­sive neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test bat­tery assess­ing mem­o­ry, exec­u­tive func­tions, visu­al per­cep­tion, and pro­cess­ing speed and com­plet­ed ques­tion­naires assess­ing activ­i­ty, par­tic­i­pa­tion, fatigue, and affec­tive symp­toms. Results showed that pro­cess­ing speed was the only vari­able con­sis­tent­ly sig­nif­i­cant­ly relat­ed to both activ­i­ty and par­tic­i­pa­tion. When exam­in­ing spe­cif­ic aspects of activ­i­ty and par­tic­i­pa­tion in iso­la­tion, employ­ment sta­tus was sig­nif­i­cant­ly asso­ci­at­ed with edu­ca­tion lev­el, visu­al mem­o­ry, fatigue, and pro­cess­ing speed. Cook­ing abil­i­ty was asso­ci­at­ed with per­for­mance on tasks of work­ing mem­o­ry, ver­bal mem­o­ry, and pro­cess­ing speed. These find­ings sug­gest that pro­cess­ing speed is a pri­ma­ry cog­ni­tive fac­tor in MS influ­enc­ing qual­i­ty of both activ­i­ty and par­tic­i­pa­tion in every­day life.

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