While cognitive dysfunction feels different for everyone and can change daily, many people with MS can identify with part or all of the following descriptions of MS-related cognitive problems:
Problems with Abstract Conceptualization: Put simply, this is difficulty with figuring things out in the “abstract” in a way that is going to lead to a desired outcome. It means that people get easily overwhelmed if something is too complex, as it is hard to organize thoughts and tasks, to apply lessons learned from multiple past experiences, and to be “flexible” enough in their thinking to come up with alternate solutions if a problem arises. This can negatively impact judgment.
Short-Term Memory Deficits: The most common form of cognitive dysfunction in MS, this usually manifests in things like forgetting whose number you just dialed, going to the pantry and not knowing what you went there for (even though you just looked at your recipe), or being unable to remember if you took your pills or not. You may also find yourself repeating a sentence or part of a story to someone that you just told it to, not aware that you had already said it.
Attention Difficulties: This can manifest as “distractability” or simply inability to keep your mind on a task. You may find that you are unable to multitask or that even minor ambient noise, like the television or music, can make it virtually impossible to concentrate on things like reading or performing sequential tasks, like those involved in cooking.
Slower Speed of Information Processing: This includes all the aforementioned symptoms, and it means that the brain simply cannot take in and prioritize all of the information coming at a person at once. This includes problems processing language (spoken or written), sensory information (visual, sounds, smells, touch), spatial information (like that involved in navigating while driving), or more abstract things like social cues and reading people’s emotions.
How Common Is Cognitive Impairment?
Between 34 and 65 percent of people with MS have some sort of cognitive impairment. Even people who recently started having other MS symptoms may have cognitive dysfunction, but it might be so subtle that they didn’t notice it or attribute it to other things, such as aging or being tired.
If you want to read the full article see http://ms.about.com/od/signssymptoms/a/cognitive_over.htm?nl=1
JJ, thank you. My cognitive issues are quite noticeable. It was like a switch went off --- one day I was typing 45 - 60 wpm without errors then I realized I had a hard time hitting the right keys and was making weird spelling mistakes. I had to re-read my writings several times and even found mistakes later after hitting . I lost words when I'm normally very articulate and couldn't recall details. I still feel this way but it is much better than during my worst un-dx'd flare.
There was a Medical Continuing Education unit on "Cognitive reserve" that was pretty interesting. Not really a "use it or loose it" thing, but more of a "heavy use and brain exercise adds to the ability of the brain to recover and deal with damage,"
A search on "Cognitive reserve" might make for interesting reading
Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one! My husband just thinks I'm crazy! I'll even be typing and if I'm going to type "when" I'll end up typing "with"! That's probably my most common typing error. I also forget what I'm doing, who I'm calling, where I was going...things like that. I often get surprised when I call someone and they answer the phone. I know who they are by the sound of their voice, but I ask them why I called them. I'll remember after a minute or so usually... :)
I do the most daft things, hear the most daft things too. For example I home school ds but when it comes to math, well forget it, he's so far beyond me I really dont know what he's talking about. Just a couple of minutes ago he asked what i knew about Vectors, well i explained vectors, um not the math but the scooter lol
After he finished laughing, he then explained the math vector, i couldn't keep track of what he was saying anyway but he totally lost me when i got distracted by the word erection, it didn't seem to fit within the sentence. He asked why i looked confused so i asked "did you say erection?" Hmmmm I forgot he's a 13 yr old boy lol he's in fits of laughter and falling off his chair now, ahhhh he'd actually said direction.
ROFL sometimes being confused is amusing, laugh and the world laughs with you!
Well I was at work last Thursday and had a horrible day. I sent a note via computer to our billing person but didn't assign it to her. I realized after i clicked send that I didn't enter her name and asked the girl I was working with where she thought it would end up...it didn't take long to figure it out though because the doctor (my boss) came up and said "I just got a note about ..... Then I sent refill request to the nurse but only put the patients first name and she came up laughing saying " Do you know how many patients we have with that first name? I need a last name too!!" Then the icing on the cake was when I was trying to make small talk with an ultrasound tech that is only there once a month so I remembered the last conversation we had being about her Dad being sick and I asked so I asked her how her dad was doing....She said "he died a few months ago". I apologized and when she left my coworker reminded me I had signed the condolence card. uggghhhh I am losing it!!!
Thank you for posting this! It makes me feel better reading things like this, knowing that I'm not the only one who has these problems and that there are medical reasons why these things happen to us. I have problems with all of those that the article mentions. Everyone around me acts like I am completely dumb and they never take me serious but it makes me feel better knowing that there are reasons why my brain is like that.
Thank you JJ for posting this. It leads me to a question I was going to ask. I have been through the neuro-psych testing, and was found to have areas where I am even labeled Impaired. That really hurts.
Anyway, I have speech difficulties at times, and it is characterized by not only struggling to find a particular word, but also stuttering. Sometimes it is even severe. Has anyone seen this symptom, too?
I was assaulted by a student which seems to have triggered the multiple sclerosis, at least that is my Primary Care Physician's opinion. So, some of my issues may be as a result of that. He threw me head first into a wall. I also have problems with some OCD. One of which is that I can not bear to write any words that are contractions. I use them in my speech, but will not write them. I also had perfect pitch, and it is now gone.
I had my first attack a couple of months ago and stuttering was one of my symptoms. I don't have it now though. I think everyone in life has issues in one way or another. We are all a little strange in our own way... MS or not :) Take care.
The first time I started walking like a string puppet back in 09 (what i refer to as the 'big bang') i also acquired verbal communication issues, something i had never before experienced and couldn't so easily explain away. As a verbally gifted person suddenly stuttering and slurring my words, on top of loosing nouns and my train of thought, was what made me realise that something was wrong with my brain. All the physical stuff didn't freak out my family but it was the inability to communicate that did it, this highlighted to everyone that my brain was malfunctioning.
If you didn't have MS i would say its quite probable that you have an acquired brain injury from the assault but the assault triggering the MS is a bit doubtful, i'd be more inclinded to believe that the stress and trauma of the assault pushed you into your own 'big bang episode' and thus lead to the discovery that you did infact have MS already. imho
The modulation or tone of speech with MSers is often affected, more so if the muscles that control the tongue and throat are affected too. I am but a curious creature and when this first started, i discovered I could often think the word i wanted to say but if i tried to just speak it, it would come out slurred/stuttered. This indicated to me that the problem was also machanical and not solely cognitive.
My recommedation for anyone dealing with this is to not be anxious about it happening because it can actually make it worse, be calm and methodical. If you stutter/slurr its important to stop speaking immediately, take a second to mentally repeat the word, then resume speaking as if nothing was amiss, with practise it does work. What your doing is interupting the brain and machanical aspects of speach, sort of creating a reboot of your malfunctioning systems.
Also read and practise 'cued articulation' techniques, and anything on stuttering, you will find something that works for you, it all helps you take back some control and gives you a plan of action when its happening.
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