Managing Cognitive Problems
©1995 Mary K. Rohrer Durham RN BSN, National CFS and FM Association
Editor's Note: Although this article is not specific to either CFS or FM, we feel the content may benefit those persons who are experiencing cognitive problems.
Up until the 1980s, most physicians believed that cognitive dysfunction rarely occured in people with MS. But since that time, studies have shown that between 55-65 percent of people with MS have some level of difficulty in this area. The best way of managing cognitive problems is to first understand the problems then practice strategies to overcome or compensate for the inconvenience they cause.
Cognitive process involves attention, memory, learning, organizing, comprehending, thinking, and judgement. In MS, cognitive problems result from demyelination or plaques in the cerebral tract of the brain. Not everybody will experience cognitive problems, and those who do will usually have quite mild symptoms. Also, the symptoms may vary from person to person. "Only about 10 to 20 percent of individuals develop symptoms severe enough to limit daily functioning," says Dr. Jill Fischer in her article, "Cognitive Impairment in MS: The Forgotten Problem."
Sometimes recognizing cognitive impairment is the hardest first step. Family members may be the first to notice some of the following difficulties:
The most comon cognitive problems associated with MS are short-term memory loss, word-finding (selecting the right word to express a thought), and attention. The following strategies can help you compensate if you have problems in these areas.
Above all else, keep
the following in mind:
Stress, anxiety, and fatigue affect memory.
Nobody's mind is perfect. We all forget things.
Encouragement, patience and support from family and friends is crucial.
Melissa Kaplan notes...
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© 1994-2014 Melissa Kaplan or as otherwise noted by other authors of articles on this site