Spatial Navigation Intervention for people with progressive multiple sclerosis


Study Title: Spatial Navigation Intervention for people with progressive multiple sclerosis
Rationale: Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world. Patients with MS endure a range of debilitating symptoms, including memory impairment. In fact, as many as 75% of all patients experience memory problems. In addition to the challenges of fatigue, pain, vision impairment and balance deficits, memory impairment is itself debilitating, making participation in work, school and social life even more difficult. The "hippocampus", a key brain area for memory, navigating and decision-making, is often compromised in patients with MS. Its progressive shrinking (aka neurodegeneration) can even precede diagnosis of MS.
Study Description: MS is a life-long condition that often impairs memory. Our study investigates a promising behavioural intervention for improving memory function and staving off neurodegeneration for individuals aged 18-55 living with primary or secondary progressive MS. The intervention entails learning about and navigating different cities around the world on our website: learning new routes of cities, making a map in one's head of those routes and navigating them using Google Street View on a home computer, tablet or smartphone. Participants will be asked to complete these activities for 1 hour/day, 5 days per week for 16 weeks, and they get rewards along the way to make it more fun. Assessments before and after the study include computer- and telephone-based memory tests, a neuropsychological assessment and a brief interview, all of which can be done from home. No travel is necessary for participation in this study. We are looking for: Adults aged 18-55, who have been diagnosed with Primary or Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, have no other neurological conditions and do not consume THC-containing cannabis.

The information gathered will be analyzed by the study team and written up for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals and conference presentations. Ultimately, the aim is to develop a new and cost-free memory/brain treatment for people across the province that will help to lessen the existing gap in effective remedial cognitive therapies for MS
Recruitment Dates: 2019-04-30 to 2022-05-31
Who can participate: Inclusion criteria: Living with Primary or Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, adults (18-55 years old), Fluent in English, Have basic computer skills (e.g., internet, mouse, arrow keys). Exclusion criteria: Comorbid neurological disorder (e.g., concussion, brain injury, dementia, stroke), Consumption of THC-containing cannabis or severe alcohol use, Active psychosis
Location of Trial: Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Trial Investigator: Dr. Robin Green & Dr. Asaf Gilboa
Contact Information: julia rybkina
Trial Funding: Researcher-Clinician Partnership Program (RCP2), Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Foundation, Branch Out Neurological Foundation