Study launched to reduce cognitive problems in people with multiple sclerosis

UK researchers are leading a study into how people with multiple sclerosis could overcome problems with attention and memory associated to their condition.

The Cognitive Rehabilitation for Attention and Memory in people with Multiple Sclerosis (CRAMMS) trial will evaluate the effectiveness of new strategies to improve and compensate for these difficulties and aims to improve the quality of life for the patient, according to a press release.

The trial is led by Nadina Lincoln, PhD, professor of clinical psychology in the Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing at The University of Nottingham and Roshan das Nair, PhD, consultant clinical psychologist at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and honorary associate professor in the University’s Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing.

“The purpose of our research is to help people with multiple sclerosis boost their everyday memory so they can get on with their lives and do the things that people take for granted, for example remembering to pick their children up from school, turning the stove off, or knowing where they have put things,” Lincoln stated in the release. “It will also provide them with strategies to enable them to concentrate on information without getting distracted.”

The researchers will study the benefits of using internal memory aids, such as mnemonics — using patterns, words and images to remember details — and external aids including diaries, mobile phones and cameras.

The study is a collaboration with Swansea University, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, The Walton Centre NHS Trust, and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust.

The researchers will recruit 400 volunteers, aged 16 years to 69 years, from NHS hospitals, rehabilitation centers, multiple sclerosis charities and web forums. About half the volunteers will then receive a 10-week group intervention at one of the study centers in Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool and Birmingham. The groups will focus on strategies to improve attention and to reduce memory problems in daily life. The remaining volunteers will continue to receive their existing level of care.

If this study confirms the benefits of cognitive rehabilitation it could lead to a change in clinical practice in the NHS and abroad. The researchers will also use questionnaires to determine the cost-effectiveness of this intervention, and to get feedback from those taking part in the trial to establish if intervention improved their quality of life.

Disclosure: The researchers report the trial is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) program.

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