Understanding and Coping with Cognitive Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis

Photo of author

By 5mustsee.com

When I started my undergraduate studies at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, I chose to major in prehealth neuroscience. This decision came after being diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis during my senior year of high school in 2016.

I aimed to explore multiple sclerosis (MS) from a scientific perspective and use my personal journey to influence future medical approaches. However, my academic path in the medical field didn’t turn out as I had hoped.

By my fifth semester at UT Austin, I took a course on “Medical Terminology,” focusing on the origins of medical terms from Latin and Greek. The course heavily emphasized memorization, a skill I struggled with. After a few months, I realized that my chosen path required strong critical thinking skills, which had become challenging due to the cognitive impairments from my MS.

It became evident that pursuing a medical career would not be feasible for me due to the cognitive challenges stemming from my MS.

Recommended Reading

main graphic for

The unseen challenges

What is cognition? In simple terms, cognition refers to mental processes involved in understanding and acquiring knowledge. Cognitive functions include thinking, reasoning, perceiving, problem-solving, memory, and judgment.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cognitive impairment in MS manifests as issues with memory, learning new information, decision-making, and concentration, ranging from mild to severe. Cognitive dysfunction affects over half of MS patients.

Among the cognitive functions affected by MS, memory and information processing have been particularly challenging for me. I often struggle to recall information and engage in conversations due to cognitive processing deficits. Information overload can overwhelm me as my brain struggles to keep up.

Explaining these unseen cognitive struggles to others can be mentally taxing and difficult, as cognitive impairment is not visible externally. Despite the challenges, it’s crucial to discuss these limitations to deepen understanding and foster empathy. My difficulty in recalling information doesn’t reflect a lack of attention or interest but rather how my brain functions differently from others.

Strategies for Cognitive Management

Over time, I’ve integrated various strategies into my daily life to cope with cognitive dysfunction, such as solving puzzles, reading, taking notes, and using online calendars. Each strategy offers unique benefits.

Engaging in puzzles and reading keeps my mind active during downtime, crucial during academic breaks. Note-taking allows me to revisit information when memory fails. Online calendars aid in planning and organizing daily tasks. Coping mechanisms for cognitive challenges are individualized and vary for each person.

Throughout our MS journeys, we may need to reassess various aspects of our lives, including our careers, to adapt to health-related changes. While these decisions may present emotional and psychological hurdles, prioritizing our well-being over external expectations is paramount. We must do what we can within our abilities.

If you experience cognitive impairment due to MS, do you have strategies that help you cope? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is an informational website dedicated to MS. It does not offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Content should not replace professional medical guidance. Always consult a healthcare provider for medical concerns. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and aim to stimulate dialogue on MS-related topics.

Source link

Leave a Comment

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Share to...