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Learn more about multiple sclerosis

While most people are aware of the physical changes caused by multiple sclerosis, they may not realize it can affect how we think, process, and learn. We do know that more than half of all people with MS will develop problems with cognition, and those cognitive problems may even be your very first symptom of the disease.

The very first cognitive changes might show up as trouble finding the right words, difficulty remembering what to do on the job, or feeling overwhelmed by the usual load. Many report difficulty making decisions or using poor judgment, struggling keeping up with tasks or conversations, trouble with job performance and keeping up at home.

Certain functions are more likely to be affected than others. Those include:

-     Information processing (dealing with information gathered by our senses)
-     Memory (acquiring, retaining, and retrieving new information)
-     Attention and concentration (particularly multi-tasking)
-     Executive functions (planning and prioritizing)
-     Visuospatial functions (visual perception and constructional abilities)
-     Verbal fluency (word-finding)

Cognitive functions are typically affected differently from one patient to the next by factors such as the stage of the disease (with more impairment later in the disease), the number of lesion areas on the brain, and whether or not the MS is progressive.

But even if a patient is affected by MS cognitively, there are factors within your control. In general, the more fatigued you become, the greater the trickle-down effect on your mood, pain, thinking skills, and even safety. Everything from memory, word-finding and time-management to prioritizing time for loved ones, socializing and succeeding at work can suffer. We have seen patients who push themselves really hard to continue to keep life’s obligations going and as a result may function worse; living in a state of almost constant fatigue. When your mind and body is tired, your executive functioning suffers, resulting in greater impulsivity, less organization and planning. Fatigue can also make it difficult to be aware in the moment and apply medical recommendations to keep your health and safety first priority. 

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Learn more about multiple sclerosis
Qualified Therapists

Our dedicated team of speech-language pathologists are specially trained in speech therapy as it relates to cognitive-communication issues (how you listen, process, focus, remember, and communicate). We are also nationally certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, are nationally recognized by the Brain Injury Association of America and are Certified Brain Injury Specialists (CBIS). We are licensed to practice in both North Dakota and Minnesota. We believe every patient deserves the best treatment and support we can offer in every single contact and interaction with us.

Individual Approach

We recognize that no two people have the same needs and that everyone has different learning styles. That’s why we like to call our approach “the Progressive way,” which means we will happily customize treatment plans to meet the unique needs of the individual and their family. We also believe in “the right fit” between patient and therapist, so will make every effort to match you with a clinician who connects with you, understands you, and utilizes a therapy style that is comfortable for you.

We are here to help

Depending on the goals you wish to accomplish and the learning pace that is most comfortable for you, we will arm you with the evidence-based strategies, proven skills, and ample support you need to feel more organized, prepared, and effective. Therapy strategies may range from recommendations for specific tools (such as timers or planners), one-on-one brainstorming and problem-solving to address concerns, therapeutic activities as well as computer trials or worksheets to help strengthen cognitive and executive functions like attention, memory, and planning.

Coaching with compassion

We know that working on cognitive-communication issues is hard work and that it can be easy to feel defeated or overwhelmed by the challenges of building a more efficient brain. However, you will not be in this alone. We are not just speech-language pathologists; we are fellow human beings who care about you, your journey, and your success. We don’t want an appointment to feel like you’ve been sent to the principal’s office. Instead, you’ll find a comfortable space where you’ll feel listened to and understood. And because humor makes everything more bearable, be prepared to laugh and joke a bit too!