After having lived with MS for more than twenty-five years, I feel very blessed to have developed minimal cognitive impairments.
Approximately 50% of individuals who have MS will develop some form of cognitive impairment throughout the course of their illness. Notably, cognitive impairments are not correlated with physical symptom severities. An individual with relatively mild physical impairments may develop a severe degree of cognitive dysfunction; conversely, an individual with very severe physical disabilities may exhibit only a mild degree of cognitive impairment.
I’m extremely thankful that my verbal skills remain highly intact. MS is less likely to impact this area of cognition. I rarely struggle with trying to find the correct word when writing, or speaking.
Obviously, this is extremely important to me, since I’m currently in the process of writing a book. My part-time employment as an adjunct professor also demands excellent speaking abilities. I very rarely have mild, short-term memory difficulties.
As is to be expected with MS, my speed of information processing is somewhat slower than it used to be. This is especially true for trying to learn new types of material. When I was first diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, I strongly feared the loss of my cognitive abilities.
I’ve learned the importance of minimizing external distractions when I’m attempting to focus on especially challenging types of material. I find it extremely difficult to effectively divide my attention.