How MS affects the brain: cognitive changes

About 50% of people with MS will have some degree of cognitive changes, which may include difficulties with:

  • remembering recent events
  • finding the right words
  • information processing
  • spatial tasks (e.g., finding your way around)
  • planning and organizing
  • making decisions
  • solving problems

Cognitive changes can have a major impact on quality of life. They can often be a factor in why many people affected with MS are unemployed, with the rate of unemployment higher for those with more severe disease.

MS symptoms vary from person to person, so you may not experience all of these symptoms.

If you notice cognitive changes, speak to your neurologist about what you can do to manage them, and about how to optimize your MS treatment.

Even if you don't have any cognitive changes, MS could still be silently damaging your brain. Ask your doctor about markers of silent MS brain damage such as brain lesions shown on an MRI scan. 

Use the MS Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaire to prepare your visit to your neurologist and the MS Doctor Discussion Guide to guide the conversation.

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