Research has proven physical exercise “has a protective effect on parts of the brain that are most affected by multiple sclerosis (MS)”, and though this is true, most people forget about mental exercises that can also help those suffering from cognitive symptoms.
An article written by Susan Tannen outlines many brain exercises that are geared more towards the elderly, but there were a few that looked like they would be valuable cerebral training specific to MS patients:
Visuospatial abilities are, simply put, the ability to see and analyze objects in relation to their surroundings such as being to make quick and accurate assessment of areas, distances and volumes.
What is suggested to help with this:
- When you walk into a room with a group of people in it, try to quickly determine how many are on your right and your left, as well as the left-right distribution of furniture and other objects.
- Observe objects–pens, for instance–and try to estimate their length and thickness.
- When you have visited somewhere and then return home, try to draw a plan or map of the place you have seen. Repeat this exercise the next day and the day after.
Logic abilities helps build on finding an orderly sequence for contrasting environments. Such as when, again walking into a room where you find yourself unfamiliar, being able to quickly find comfort (i.e. low stress) in your surroundings such as a large and small areas laid out together inside an airport.
What is suggested to help with this:
- Don’t use a list when shopping. Instead, invent a system to take the place of the list. Use memory aids, such as forming a complete word, or one that can be completed by adding a certain vowel or consonant from the first letters of the words for the things you need to buy. Or, you can classify foods into raw and cooked. Or, use any other system that works for you.
- All games involve logical activities. Card games such as pinochle and bridge or board games of strategy such as chess or checkers are good choices. So are crossword puzzles anagrams, and other word games.
- Avoid playing the same games all the time. Chess players might switch to GoTM or OthelloTM, while bridge players might play whist or hearts. Playing the same game all the time leads to routine, which is the opposite of activation. The same cerebral circuits and neuronal regions are constantly used and everything else remains unused.
- Find new games and interests. Explore activities that are completely new to you and find new partners for old–and new–games and activities.
Another part of mental exercising, Tannen writes, is overcoming monotony. She talks of how “monotony generates mental (and emotional) lethargy and resignation” and suggests changing tasks or obligations up a little if possible. Therapeutic re-organization of our lives can help us to open up to others with discussion, interactions and even by confrontation.
Scientifically designed online brain training can be found at Brain Games & Brain Training. According to the Los Angelas Times, “Luminosity presents a wide range of exercises that target different mental activities” and The New York Times says, “We can indeed form new brain cells, despite a century of being its impossible.”
These online courses, games and assessments are available for free and the hundreds who have worked through them, or are currently working through them, have recommended it to friends and family members.
Luminosity’s front webpage reports users have improved memory, increased alertness and awareness, elevated moods, quicker thinking and better concentration at work or while driving. While this is something that would benefit anyone, MS patients would no doubt see a marked improvement.
Certain studies have reported the more patients with MS enrich their lives with these kinds of activities, the more able they will be to reserve or reduce cognitive problems later.
Though they will admit more research is needed, it couldn’t hurt, in the mean time, to get a head start and possibly know before they do. Don’t you think?
For more info: for those who live in Lima, Ohio, the Northwestern Ohio MS Chapter can be reached at: 401 Tomahawk Drive , Maumee, OH at (419) 897-7263. They are located approximately an hour and a half from Lima, Ohio and 45 minutes from Findlay, Ohio. For directions please click here at Google Maps.
Sources: www.bellydoc.com/articles/article7.htm; researchnews.osu.edu/archive/msbrain.htm; http://www.lumosity.com/
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