Researchers reported that processing speed is the primary factor that limits activity and participation in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), in a new study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Within five years of a MS diagnosis, the employment rate drops from 90% to 20–30% and only 35% of people living with MS perform normal social and lifestyle activities. Study authors from the Kessler Foundation conducted a study on 72 MS patients to evaluate cognitive factors related to both activity and participation. Their study focused on cooking ability for activity and employment status for participation. They measured neuropsychological testing of memory, executive function, visual perception, and processing speed and conducted questionnaires about fatigue, affective symptoms, activity, and participation.

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Researchers concluded that the most significant variable associated with activity and participation was processing speed. Study author Yael Goverover, PhD, noted that “for occupational therapists, this means that implementing strategies that improve processing speed may help people with MS maintain their daily activities and stay in the workplace.”

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