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Multiple Sclerosis: Do I Need a Cognitive Evaluation?

Research studies on cognitive function in multiple sclerosis (MS) have demonstrated that as many as 50 to 66 percent of people will experience some cognitive changes over the course of the disease. Taking a lot of tests to see how your brain is working may not be your idea of fun, but consider these reasons why you may decide to go for it anyway:

  • When the neurologist asks you to remember three words, count backwards by threes or sevens, or name the president (part of the brief mental status exam that neurologists sometimes do to evaluate cognition), you do just fine. But you’ve been experiencing some worrisome changes, and you want to understand what’s going on.

  • You’ve received some feedback from family members or colleagues that you aren’t quite up to snuff these days.

  • Your job has become more difficult and you want to figure out what’s going on and address the problem before your boss addresses it for you.

  • You’re considering a career change because of difficulties you’ve begun to experience in your current work. An assessment of your strengths and weaknesses can help you identify other potential career paths.

  • You’re considering applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and you know that cognitive dysfunction is one of the four factors that determine eligibility for a person with MS.

  • You aren’t experiencing any problems at the moment but you know that MS can affect a person’s cognition and you want to establish a baseline against which to compare future evaluations.

The most important thing to know about a comprehensive cognitive evaluation is that it gives you valuable information about your strengths as well as any areas of difficulty. This information comes in handy as you begin to develop strategies to compensate for any problems you’re experiencing.

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