Cognition and communication challenges affect approximately 50-66% of those with MS. Impairment can range from mild to severe, but most MS-related cognitive changes fall in the mild to moderate range. However, even subtle changes in cognition can be distressing and can have a significant impact on daily function. Cognitive changes and fatigue are more common reasons for people with MS to leave the workforce than mobility issues.

Forgetfulness, finding the right word and being overwhelmed or paralyzed by indecision and too much information are common cognitive-related complaints expressed by those with MS. Fortunately, using strategies to compensate can help facilitate cognitive and language functions. Some techniques you may learn include visual and/or verbal associations and spaced retrieval for learning and internalizing new information. Have you ever had one of those frustrating “tip of the tongue” moments? Gestures, synonyms and initial letter cues are just a few tools to help overcome such moments. External aids such as calendars, smartphones or pocket logs help with planning, organization and memory. Generous application of tools, whether cognitive “tricks” and/or organization, can make or break how you manage your daily life, but it is important to include a holistic look at your life to create the most success. Managing your fatigue level, work load and leisure time are all important aspects of balance that can and do affect cognition and language, as well as the rest of your life.

It is important to remember that if language or cognitive challenges have a significant impact on safety or ability to function in work or daily life, it is advisable to consult with a speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist or neuropsychologist, so that individual needs can be addressed specifically to gain the most benefit.

Click here to get even more great tips on this topic by viewing our archived webinar on Mind Over Brain: Addressing the Language and Cognitive Challenges of MS.