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MS Patients Can Improve Well-Being by Mental Visual Imaging Training

August 31, 2015

Patients with RRMS (relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis) are often faced with deficits in two neuropsychological functions, autobiographical memory (AM) and episodic future thinking (EFT). While these can both very much impact one’s quality of life, researchers have reported that training RRMS patients in mental visual imagery (MVI) can improve both of these functions.

AM enables people to have the ability to remember personal detailed events within specific locations and time frames while EFT allows them to imagine future personal detailed events as they might happen. When one of these is impaired, it makes it difficult for patients to participate in daily life.

The MVI that is used to improve patients’ AM and EFT is based on the ability to mentally construct scenes as well as pay closer attention to details in the mind’s eye. The patients that participated in the program underwent six two-hour MVI sessions which were once or twice per week.

40 RRMS patients that were receiving regular drug therapy participated in the study and were being evaluated for disease progression through clinical examination. They were also evaluated for brain abnormalities in order to confirm that significant signs of atrophy were present.

Patients were divided into three groups for assessment using an adapted version of the Autobiographical Interview. There were those that received MVI which were the experimental group, a sham verbal treatment which was the verbal control group and the stability group which underwent no treatment.

During the investigation about the MVI program, patients noted much more of a general feeling of self-confidence along with higher levels of control and vitality. All in all, this study concluded that AM and EFT impairment could be very much improved by the use of a mental visual imagery strategy, as it seemed to result in significant benefits for the daily functioning of these patients.