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MS and Cognitive Impairment

Although severe cognitive impairment only affects a small group of people with MS, up to two-thirds of people with MS notice some problems with the thinking process. This may include memory, communication skills, attention span or ability to concentrate, among other symptoms.

In our own MS in America survey, 66% of respondents identified cognitive dysfunction as an MS symptom (n= 3,009). 92% of individuals experiencing frequent cognitive symptoms reported either short or long-term memory loss.  Over 80% also reported challenges with concentration/attention span, information processing (slow thinking or sensory overload), or verbal fluency (problems finding words).


*With regards to your cognitive dysfunction, in which of the following have you experienced difficulties (check all that apply)

Because cognitive symptoms can have an impact on daily living – including the ability to work and maintain relationships – it is important to identify these symptoms as early as possible.  Your doctor may conduct a comprehensive cognitive evaluation to identify problems you are having, and will work with you to develop strategies for symptom management.

Do you experience cognitive problems due to your MS? If so, have you developed techniques for managing your symptoms?

The MS in America Study was conducted over the internet from November 2012 until January 2013. The primary goal of the study was to establish an understanding of the current state and trends of patients affected by Multiple Sclerosis. The survey included over 100 questions on a broad range of topics. A total of 3,437 people started the survey while 2,562 people completed the survey resulting in a high completion rate of 74.5%. To qualify for the survey, participants had to be MS patients over 18 years old and a US resident or US citizen living abroad.

The study was solely developed and funded by Health Union, LLC which does not manufacture, sell nor market any product to diagnose, prevent or treat MS or any other disease.


  • Crystal
    5 months ago

    I would be curious to take that test.

  • itasara
    10 months ago

    I have a few, maybe all, those cog fog symptoms, but again, it is hard to know how much is from MS and how much is from being age 70. I think I have most of my life had some issues but they are worse now but not terrible, I don’t think.

  • Karla
    6 years ago

    I have discovered that the bladder control drugs Detrol and Ditropan list cognitive issues, memory problems, as side-effects. How can these be differentiated from the MS process itself?

  • KixPeace
    6 years ago

    This is really good to know I have been loosing things like 2 seconds after I put them down, I was convinced there was a gremlin in my house stealing stuff. Now I try to put things in the same place and show my husband. My 3 1/2 yr old son has gotten pretty good at knowing what mommy is looking for and where it. Have to find humor some how it helps

  • Meri Jo Hall
    6 years ago

    I was diagnosed in 2007 just after turning 37. I had been doing research on MS for about two months prior to my diagnosis, and what I had been seeing a lot of information about was Neuro-psychological testing. Well, I scheduled to have this done, I think, in February 2008 at Hershey Medical Center here in Central PA. I found out that, according to the slew of tests that I had participated in, I had a lot of impairments in the cognitive area, and that I would be unable to hold a job due to the amount of impairment. In fact, looking at your graph above, I have ALL of them most of the time with the exception of the next to last; my verbal repertoire is quite good, and most times I have no trouble articulating what I want to say, but sometimes I just can’t latch on to the correct word…it is in my head, and I can see it, I just can’t say it, which is extremely frustrating.

    The only ways I’ve found to cope are to consistently make shopping lists, or lists for places I need to go before I go out. My husband also got me a GPS (A Garmin) because my sense of direction has become abominable in the last year or so. Otherwise, I just stay home.

    I hope that people outside of the MS world can comprehend what us MSers go through; although I know they can’t understand at all unless you live with it. Best wishes to all who have cognitive issues! Stand strong and do your best!

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