What are cognitive deficits?
I am going to make a confession. I have a pet peeve. My pet peeve is how often the words “Cognitive Deficits” are thrown around when talking about (and to) pwMS. When my patients first come to me, none of them can really explain to me what the phrase “Cognitive Deficits” means. All they know is that it is used a lot in connection with a diagnosis of MS, and that they know it has something to do with how they think. And that it’s a little scary.
This is how I clarify it.
Cognition has to do with our ability to think. And cognition has parts. Some of these are attention, memory, problem solving, reasoning, planning and organization. Because all of you with MS are so unique, you really can’t throw the blanket phrase “cognitive deficits” on everyone. Some individuals have increased difficulty paying attention, some have problems figuring out the steps needed to complete a task and some can’t remember where they need to be tomorrow. Some individuals can do all of this, but it takes twice as long.
That is the role of the therapist, to tease out how the changes in the ability of the pwMS to think, is having an impact on their daily lives. Does that increased difficulty paying attention mean that the pwMS is not able to get all the information needed from meetings at work? Does the increased difficulty figuring out the steps needed to complete a task mean that housework is not being completed or the dishes are always piled up to the ceiling? Is the pwMS forgetting where they are going as they drive down the road?
The link below goes into more detail…
Cognition can be evaluated by several different professions. Neuropsychologists will provide the most comprehensive analysis of attention, memory etc. Speech Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists can do simpler cognitive or cognitive- linguistic evaluations, and then set functional goals with the patient’s input and treat the deficits. Psychologists, social workers and counselors can also administer tools to assess what “part” of cognition may be having a negative impact on daily function.
These changes can happen early in the MS disease process, so if you feel you are thinking differently, ask for a referral to be evaluated by one of the professions mentioned above.
Lori Ann Kostich M.S. CCC-SLP
Mandell Center for Treatment and Research
#cognition #cognitivedeficits #multiple sclerosis #MS