Speed of processing training: A quick fix for MS?

Have you heard of the term “speed of processing”? Sounds like something that would apply to computer programs or complicated tech doesn’t it! In actual fact, speed of processing (or processing speed), is the time it takes someone to comprehend and then react to information.

In people with MS, their processing speed can be affected and this is one of the most impactful cognitive (brain) problems associated with the disease. Problems with processing speed can lead to issues with short-term memory, verbal skills and the ability to learn. This in turn may cause issues across work, social and home lives. Everyday activities such as driving and doing chores can become more challenging.

Speeding things up

Speed of processing training (SPT) involves taking part in training exercises and sessions, usually through a computer, aimed to improve the user’s processing speed through customized tasks that involve detection, identification and spotting differences exercises. Previous research has shown that older individuals can benefit from this kind of training and it can improve their cognitive performance.

Moving swiftly on to MS…

A recent study looked at the use of speed of processing training (SPT) to try and combat this MS symptom. 21 people with MS took part in a trial, where half of them received the SPT treatment and half were part of the control group which did not take part in the treatment. Their cognitive function was measured before and then one week after completing the training, through processing speed, memory and processing speed in everyday life tests.

The researchers found that those who had taken part in SPT showed significant improvements in their processing speed, learning and memory, and this also translated into everyday life improvements. Contrastingly, no changes were seen in the control group.

A quick solution?

So should everyone be starting SPT right now? Well, not quite yet! This small study provides some positive initial results but it will be important to study the use of SPT in much bigger groups of people with MS and to follow them for longer periods of time, to confirm whether it can really make a difference.

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Jamie Tripp Utitus
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Jamie Tripp Utitus
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