Highlights of the 29th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ECTRIMS), Copenhagen, DK, October 2-5, 2013 – Researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, have developed a brief cognitive screening tool to evaluate patients with CIS or MS (Lapshin et al. ECTRIMS 2013; abstract P793). The computer-generated battery of tests comprises the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), the STROOP Colour-Word Test, the Paced Visual Serial Addition Test (PVSAT) four- and two-second trials, and an index of cognitive speed. The test battery can be administered in 10 minutes.
The Sunnybrook group used the test battery to examine its effectiveness in differentiating CIS, MS, SPMS and PPMS in 138 patients. The average age of CIS patients was 29.8 years, and for MS patients was 48.9 years. Significant differences were seen among the patient groups on four of five cognitive tests; no difference was seen on the PVSAT-2.
Overall, CIS patients had the least cognitive impairment, SPMS patients had the most cognitive impairment, while RRMS and PPMS showed intermediate levels of impairment.
The authors emphasized that the brief cognitive battery is not intended to replace conventional neurocognitive assessments but may be highly useful as a quick cognitive screen in clinical practice.
Guest Reviewer: Dr. Paul S. Giacomini, Associate Director, MS Clinic, Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montréal, Québec.