How do we assess cognitive problems in patients who have multiple sclerosis (MS)?
There is no one test that measures cognitive problems in MS. Some screening tools are available, but none are perfect. Research studies often use a test called the PASAT. This takes a few minutes and consists of a task that measures addition and recall of prior numbers. It may be moderately stressful. Other tests include the mini mental status examination which is used often in neurology, but is not very sensitive to cognitive problems in MS.
A formal neuropsychological examination is the best test to evaluate troublesome cognitive changes in MS. During a neuropsychological evaluation multiple tests are used to measure memory, attention, and many other parts of cognition. This allows a full assessment of the kinds of problems with thinking that are present and whether these may be due to depression or another complicating factor.