COMPUTER GAMES FOUND TO IMPROVE COGNITIVE ABILITY IN MS PATIENTS

News Brief by Meg Thode 

           At the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting this Spring, researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center shared findings that a computer program was able to significantly improve cognitive ability in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). Cognitive impairment is a common symptom of MS: it can affect concentration, memory, and processing functions, sometimes manifested in “difficulty remembering words … or remembering routines”. This may stem from the atrophy and loss of grey matter in the brain.

        Currently, cognitive remediation programs for MS patients require patients to travel to an out-patient facility several times a week for an hour or more of therapy. While this is found to be effective, it is incredibly time-consuming and often not realistic for working or disabled MS patients. This computer program, however, is run at home with training and troubleshooting offered by a study technician. The study, comparing the performance of patients using the training program (Brain HQ) to that of patients using ordinary computer games, found that Brain HQ patients saw performance on neuropsychological tests improve by 29%. The placebo group saw an improvement of 15%, though they engaged with their program 19 hours more than their counterparts, on average.

         Senior study author, Lauren B. Krupp, notes that “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.”

NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine. (2016, April 16). At-home  cognitive remediation may help cognitive symptoms in multiple sclerosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved  April 23, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160416094758.htm