Trial Will Evaluate Cognitive Rehabilitation in Multiple Sclerosis

The trial will evaluate the use of memory and external aids, like cell phones, for memory recall in multiple sclerosis.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom are launching a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of new strategies meant to improve and compensate for difficulties with attention and memory in people with multiple sclerosis.

The Cognitive Rehabilitation for Attention and Memory in people with Multiple Sclerosis (CRAMMS) trial, which will begin recruiting patients in April, is being led by Nadina Lincoln, PhD, professor of clinical psychology in the Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing at The University of Nottingham and Roshan das Nair, MD, consultant clinical psychologist at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and honorary associate professor in the University’s Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing.

Nearly 50% of patients with multiple sclerosis will have problems with attention and memory at some point during the progression of the disease; however few get treatment for such cognitive problems.

In previous trials, cognitive rehabilitation for people with multiple sclerosis has not been shown to be effective, which is why the researchers are turning their focus to more imaginative strategies, including internal memory aids and external aids to aid in memory recall.

About half of the 400 volunteers, aged 16 to 69 years, will go through a 10-week group intervention program that will include learning how to use memory aids like mnemonics and external aids like diaries, mobile phones and cameras during moments of cognitive cloudiness. The group will also learn strategies to help improve attention and reduce daily memory problems. The other half of volunteers will continue their existing level of care.

The trial will also evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the intervention, and whether or not the training has an effect on general quality of life.

“The purpose of our research is to help people with multiple sclerosis boost their everyday memory so they can get on with their lives and do the things that people take for granted, for example remembering to pick their children up from school, turning the stove off, or knowing where they have put things,” said Lincoln. “It will also provide them with strategies to enable them to concentrate on information without getting distracted.”

The study is being conducted in collaboration with Swansea University, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, The Walton Centre NHS Trust, and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, and is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) program.