Kessler Foundation scientists confirm effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation in MS

August 08, 2014

WEST ORANGE, NJ August 8, 2014. Kessler Foundation researchers published long-term followup results of their MEMREHAB trial, which show that in individuals with MS, patterns of brain activity associated with learning were maintained at 6 months post training. The article, A pilot study examining functional brain activity 6 months after memory retraining in MS: the MEMREHAB trial, was published online ahead of print on June 14 by Brain Imaging and Behavior (doi: 10.1007/s11682-014-9309-9). The article appeared in the Neuroimaging and Rehabilitation Special Issue. The authors are Ekaterina Dobryakova, PhD, Glenn Wylie, DPhil, John DeLuca, PhD, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, of Kessler Foundation.

This pilot study was based on the Foundation's MEMREHAB Trial, which provided the first Class I evidence for the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation in MS. (Chiaravalloti N, et al: An RCT to treat learning impairment in MS. Neurology 2013(81) doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000437295.97946.a8S), was released as an epub ahead of print on November 8. The 10-session memory retraining protocol used in the MEMREHAB study was the modified Story Memory Technique (mSMT).

For the pilot study, participants underwent evaluation of memory performance and brain activity at baseline, immediately following memory retraining, and at 6-month followup. Results showed that the patterns of increased cerebral activation that correlated with learning were maintained at 6-month followup. "These results support the long-term effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation in individuals with cognitive impairment caused by MS," said Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuroscience & Neuropsychology and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research at Kessler Foundation."For optimal care, it is crucial for clinicians who care for this population to become familiar with the mSMT protocol."

The mSMT protocol has been translated into Spanish and is being used in the U.S., Mexico, and Argentina. A Chinese translation has also been completed for use in upcoming studies. The protocol is currently being tested in the population with cognitive impairment caused by TBI.
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Clinicians may contact mSMT@KesslerFoundation.org for more information about the protocol.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD045798S, R01 HD045798), National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research (H133P090009), and Kessler Foundation.

About MS Research at Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society, NJ Commission of Brain Injury Research, Consortium of MS Centers, the Patterson Trust, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundation and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP of Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience and TBI Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, emotional processing and cognitive fatigue. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, iPADs, and virtual reality. Among recent findings are the benefits of cognitive reserve and aerobic exercise; correlation between cognitive performance and outdoor temperatures; efficacy of short-term cognitive rehabilitation using modified story technique; and the correlation between memory improvement and cerebral activation on fMRI. The opening of the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation in 2013 greatly expanded the Foundation's research capabilities in these areas. Foundation research scientists have faculty appointments at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

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Carolann Murphy, PA; 973.324.8382; CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

Lauren Scrivo, 973.324.8384/973.768.6583 (cell); LScrivo@KesslerFoundation.org

Kessler Foundation

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