Computer Program Aids Cognitive Deficits in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

The cognitive symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) may be alleviated by using at-home remedies, according to findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver in April.
 
Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center/ New York University School of Medicine studied 135 MS patients in order to compare the cognitive benefits of an adaptive cognitive training program to ordinary computer games in MS patients with cognitive deficits. About 70 patients were assigned to the adaptive training program, while the remaining half of the MS group used active placebo computer games. The adaptive computer training program was based on Posit Science’s Brain HQ, where patients were told to play one hour per day for five days a week over 12 weeks. Patients in both cohorts used laptops provided by the study in order to remotely monitor the program use, and were able to access technical support and weekly coaching sessions.
 
Patients in the placebo group had higher playing time, the researchers reported; however, it was the MS patients who used the adaptive program that improved by 29 percent on neuropsychological tests, compared to 15 percent from the placebo group. Patients in the intervention group demonstrated improvements among specific cognitive measures, researchers said, but there were no noted improvements in daily living activities.
 
“This trial demonstrates that computer-based cognitive remediation accessed from home can be effective in improving cognitive symptoms for individuals with MS,” lead study author Leigh Charvet, PhD, said in a press release. “The remote delivery of an at home test and findings of cognitive benefit may also be generalizable to other neurological conditions in which cognitive function is compromised.”
 
The investigators also said that the adaptive program was successful, but could have been even more effective if the participants had adhered more strictly to the program, as were the placebo patients. On average, the placebo patients were on their computer 19 hours more than their adaptive program counterparts.
 
“Many patients with MS don’t have the time or resources to get to the clinic several times a week for cognitive remediation, and this research shows remotely supervised cognitive training can be successfully provided to individuals with MS from home,” senior study author Lauren B. Krupp, MD, added in the statement. “Future studies will look at which patients with MS might respond most to cognitive remediation, and whether these improvements can be enhanced or sustained over longer periods of time.”
 
 

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