The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recently awarded MS researcher Lauren Strober, PhD from the Kessler Foundation, a three-year grant for her investigational research, totaling $457,921. The funding is part of a multi-site study that will be conducted by the investigator to understand the influence that having more up-to-date normative data for a key Multiple Sclerosis test that can improve its use in clinical settings.
Lauren Strober’s project will analyze the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), which is a standard clinical tool used by physicians to evaluate patients’ brain processing speed in MS patients, and evaluate how having more updated data can improve its clinical use. Dr. Strober believes that an updated test will enable more accurate evaluations in the future, taking into consideration alterations, as well as being able to predict the disease progression and outcomes.
“Decline in processing speed is a common cognitive symptom that has predictive value,” explained Strober, “which is why accurate assessment of processing speed is important for planning optimal treatment and care for individuals with MS. The traditional version of SDMT has been widely used for measuring disease progression in MS, but has limitations due to lack of standardization of normative data. The test needs to take into account age, gender, and education. Our study will address these concerns.”
In addition to the Kessler Foundation, where she serves as senior research scientist in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, Strober will test her updated test, the SDMT-Oral Version, at Penn State University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Washington.
Strober had recently been part of a major study designed to bridge a gap on MS research focusing on the decline of cognitive impairment over time, as previously reported by Multiple Sclerosis News Today. Along with Stephen Rao, PhD, Jar-Chi Lee, Elizabeth Fisher, PhD, and Richard Rudick, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, the researcher ended up participating in one of the largest longitudinal studies ever conducted on MS cognition.
“While cognitive impairment is known to affect 40 to 65% of individuals with multiple sclerosis, few studies have followed the pattern of cognitive decline over time, which is important for understanding long-term care and outcomes associated with multiple sclerosis,” she said.