Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) may lead to cognitive decline over-time.
Objectives: Characterize cognitive performance in MS patients with long disease duration treated with disease modifying drugs (DMD) in relation to disability and determine the prevalence of cognitive resilience.
Methods: Cognitive and functional outcomes were assessed in 1010 DMD-treated MS patients at least 10 years from onset. Cognitive performance was categorized as high, moderate or low, and neurological disability was classified according to the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) as mild, moderate or severe. Relationship between cognitive performance and disability was examined.
Results: After a mean disease duration of 19.6 (SD = 7.7) years, low cognitive performance was observed in 23.7% (N = 239), moderate performance in 42.7% (N = 431), and 33.7% (N = 340) had high cognitive performance, meeting the definition of cognitively resilient patients. Within the group of patients with low cognitive performance, severe disability was observed in 50.6% (121/239), while in the group of patients with high cognitive performance, mild disability was observed in 64.4% (219/340). Differences between the group of patients with high cognitive performance and severe disability (4.5%) and the group of patients with low cognitive performance and mild disability (5.0%) were not accounted for by DMD treatment duration.
Conclusions: The majority of DMD treated MS patients did not have cognitive decline that could impair their quality of life after disease of extended duration.