Memory problems have a significant impact on the everyday life of individuals with MS…. and we can help!

...memory for real-life situations is at the heart of what defines an individual as a person in society.
— Ernst, 2019

There has been growing interest in the literature about memory impairments in individuals with multiple sclerosis, with a recent focus on autobiographical memory (i.e., our ability to recall personal life events) and future thinking (i.e., our ability to predict future events). This paper provides an excellent overview on what we know from that research! Here are a few highlights:

  1. “Autobiographical memory and future thinking are frequently and early impaired in individuals with MS…and can have disruptive and pervasive effects in many different aspects of daily functioning” (Ernst, 2019, p. 4).

  2. Individuals with MS are generally aware of these memory problems.

  3. An intervention program aimed at boosting mental visual imagery (MVI) is effective at improving autobiographical memory and future thinking in individuals with relapsing–remitting MS.

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In this paper, the author describes one such rehab program, titled the “MVI program”, which consists of six 2-hour sessions. This program has been previously reported in the literature, and the manual is available upon request from the author.  

The bottom line is this, if you’re not already, SLPs should consider treating autobiographical memory and future thinking in individuals with MS… and therapy aimed at enhancing mental visual imagery appears to be an effective approach!

Ernst, A. (2019). Autobiographical Memory and Future Thinking Impairments in Multiple Sclerosis: Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms, Functional Impact and Rehabilitation. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.rehab.2019.06.006