Computer-Assisted Breakthroughs in Multiple Sclerosis

Brittany ThorneBrittany Thorne, a Doctoral Student in the Counseling Psychology Program recently received the Labe C. Scheinberg Award for her research paper entitled Computer-Assisted Cognitive Rehabilitation for Multiple Sclerosis: Updated findings.  The paper, which was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Centers (CMSC) in Montreal, Canada, revealed preliminary data that was encouraging for the cognitive rehabilitation of people with MS.  

Thorne investigated the effects of a computer assisted cognitive rehabilitation (CACR) program on symptoms of MS at the Maxine Mesinger MS Clinic at the Baylor College of Medicine. This same CACR program has been shown to be very helpful for those who suffered traumatic brain injuries. She hoped that distress would be limited in those who have cognitive difficulties, these impairments would be improved, and patients would build effective coping strategies and additional support for this invasive and devastating illness. Thorne found statistically significant changes in General Cognitive Functioning and Proficiency, Attention and Mental Control, Memory, Reasoning, Spatial Processing, and Reaction Time. In addition, the results from two questionnaires showed significant improvement in life enjoyment.

In the future Thorne hopes to continue incorporating cognitive rehabilitation interventions in her neuropsychological work with patients. She would like to conduct research in clinical settings that assist veterans and in community outreach programs. Her interest in working with different populations of individuals including older adults, veterans, and marginalized populations, is largely sparked by the courses she has taken from her advisor Dr. Fred Lopez and multi-cultural instructor Dr. Nicole Coleman. "Through them I have learned the importance of culture's influence on achievement, self-esteem and cognitive functioning which has greatly informed my research and counseling interventions" Thorne said.

The Consortium of MS Centers (CMSC) is the preeminent professional organization for MS healthcare providers and researchers in North America, and a valued partner in the global MS community. Its core purpose is to maximize the ability of MS healthcare providers to impact care of people who are affected by MS, thus improving their quality of life. The CMSC includes a network of more than 150 MS Member Centers, more than 50 Veterans Administration programs as well as several hundred individual members worldwide. No other professional association brings together as many disciplines with the sole purpose of caring for MS patients.

Each year, the Sheinberg Award is "given in recognition of the most outstanding work in the field of neurorehabilitation in MS and honors the multi-disciplinary and comprehensive care spirit prevalent among MS professionals."  Read the abstract of Brittany’s award winning paper.