It has been difficult for me to admit to myself that I do deal with cognitive symptoms in MS. This spring I did begin admitting it to myself, and to my neurologist. He put me on a waiting list to have this looked into. I got a call a few days ago to schedule an appointment. I am going in near the end of August. I am pretty excited about this, if a little nervous. My current understanding is we’ll get a baseline, and that there will be skills I can learn to help with this. I figure at this age it’s best to get out ahead of it, so I can maintain as much as possible, since my career weighs so heavily on cognitive function.
I have been taking this into my own hands a good bit. I looked into some official brain training software, and was rather unimpressed. I won’t share any names, but information on them and their success (or lack of measurable improvements) is readily available if you look for it. I will say though that I have seen several studies done that prove significant mental prowess developed from using games. I remember when I first got into Starcraft some years ago now that I did notice it altering how I viewed and interacted with mental challenges. I recently started playing Starcraft II with the intent of cerebral development. As of right now, I am very glad I did. The game has streamlined a lot of the interface, so what you are left with is the strategy. The game tracks a significant number of metrics during gameplay that can be reviewed afterwards. To be competitive requires an understanding of the game, the ability to develop and achieve a set of goals, observing and reacting to an ever-changing environment, and a set of honed skills utilizing significant hand-eye coordination. In the span of about a week my APM (or Actions per Minute) have more than doubled, and the actions I take have become more efficient. The difficulty rating I am able to be competitive at has increased.
The most exciting thing about this is that I have already started to see some of these improvements in my general life, too. I have seen measurable improvements in my job, as I apply the goal oriented approach to what I have to do each day. I am able to multitask better without losing sight of what my main objectives are. It’s interesting how it fits so well with other skills I was already working on for myself, such as mindfulness, awareness, and being proactive and decisive.
I look forward to seeing where things go from here. I will let you know the highlights of my journey of self-discovery as they happen. Until then, check out the OODA loop. It fits right into the middle of a number of other areas I was working on just prior to taking these steps. Here’s to being alert and aware! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop