Through their diverse effects on the nervous system, neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and dementia can lead to a range of difficulties with profound impacts on everyday life. For people living with these conditions, cognitive difficulties (including problems with attention, planning, and problem-solving) are a common and particularly debilitating and distressing consequence. Cognitive rehabilitation is not routinely offered in the NHS – and, when it is offered, largely focuses on teaching people to compensate for deficits (e.g., using memory aids) rather than retraining cognitive skills. Moreover, the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation remains unclear, leaving a need to establish suitable
evidence-based treatment options.

In response to the current state of evidence, we have been examining the potential of SMART (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training) – a theory-based online cognitive training programme – as a treatment option for improving cognitive health in people with neurological conditions. Focussing initially on people with multiple sclerosis – and extending to people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (at risk of dementia progression) – we are exploring the suitability of SMART across multiple studies: encompassing usability and acceptability testing, a proof-of-principle caseseries, and two feasibility randomised-controlled trials. In this talk, I will give a critical overview of emerging findings from our work.

Dr Nima G Moghaddam, Dr David L Dawson and Dr Rupert Burge, School of Psychology, University of Lincoln
Prof Roshan das Nair, University of Nottingham
Dr Nikos Evangelou, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Dr James Turton, PPI Lead, University of Lincoln
Miss Alexandra Frost, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Prof Graham Law and Dr Elise Rowan, LinCTU, University of Lincoln
Dr Annie Hawton and Dr Elizabeth Goodwin, University of Exeter
Dr Bryan Roche, Maynooth University