Kessler Foundation joins new study to improve cognition in people with progressive MS

Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and John DeLuca, PhD, have been awarded a $410,000 grant from the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada and the MS Scientific ResearchFoundation to assess the efficacy of a mixed-method intervention to improve cognition in people with progressive MS. This four-year award funds a collaborative study with 11 centers across six countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, and the United States.

Cognitive dysfunction occurs in up to 70% of people with progressive MS, typically involving complex attention, information processing speed, memory, and executive functions. These impairments often lead to issues in interpersonal relationships and activities of daily living. In this study, researchers will evaluate the efficacy of a randomized, controlled trial of cognitive rehabilitation and aerobic exercise - individually and in combinations - to improve cognitive dysfunction in people with progressive MS.

"We predict that the combination of these two therapies will produce better outcomes than either one alone," remarked Dr. DeLuca, senior vice president of Research and Training at Kessler Foundation. "This is the first study to use such a comprehensive patient-population sample, incorporating people of various origins and ethnicities. By documenting the beneficial effect this intervention has on individuals with progressive MS, we begin to lay the foundation for the development of a universal treatment for cognitive dysfunction in this population."

Investigators expect to enroll 360 people with progressive MS through the 11 international centers. The intervention will take place over a 12-week period. In addition, a subgroup of 120 participants will undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging pre- and post-treatment.

"Following treatment, we expect neuroimaging to show increased brain activity in regions responsible for memory, learning, and executive functioning, indicating a clear correlation between the intervention and these positive brain changes," said Dr. Chiaravalloti, director of Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research and Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation. "We are honored to partner with research teams who share the same mission of improving social functioning, and ultimately, quality of life for people with MS."

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