Cognitive difficulties of MS are often overlooked, when assessing physical impairments, a need for a feasible cognitive assessment tool was identified.
Assessing the “hidden symptom” of Multiple Sclerosis
2.3 million people worldwide live with multiple sclerosis (MS). Half experience cognitive difficulties adversely affecting their quality of life, including disease management and employment. Often characterised as a “hidden symptom”, MS cognitive difficulties are not obvious in routine consultation and objective assessment is required. The obvious physical impairments imposed by MS overshadow the cognitive challenges and they are often overlooked by health workers, families and employers. Reduced participation and performance were usually, and often wrongly, attributed to physical constraints.
Creating a cognitive assessment tool for MS
Research led by Professor Langdon has resulted in the creation of the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for MS (BICAMS) which has reduced the cost, time and training required to assess cognitive function in MS, increasing awareness and access to appropriate care.
188 centres globally have registered with the BICAMS website, which includes access to real time calculation of national norms for individuals and every year over 11,000 patients are routinely assessed on BICAMS around the world. BICAMS has benefitted health professionals by increasing their MS cognition skills. BICAMS has also facilitated cognition as an outcome in major treatment trials.
BICAMS has had a major impact on the clinical management of MS worldwide. The battery is being translated and validated in thirty countries (24 published to date) in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America. This has raised the awareness of BICAMS amongst professionals across the world, but has also enhanced the awareness of tools, professional development and knowledge surrounding MS cognition. The pharmaceutical industry has also embraced BICAMS, ensuring that it can be accessed globally for example global company Merck uses the BICAMS battery to measure cognition as a treatment outcome during ongoing MS therapy trials.