Public Release: 

Kessler Foundation joins international study to improve cognitive dysfunction in MS

This first-ever study will evaluate the effects of cognitive rehabilitation and aerobic exercise on cognitive function in individuals with progressive MS

Kessler Foundation


IMAGE: This is Dr. John DeLuca, senior vice president of Research and Training at Kessler Foundation. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and John DeLuca, PhD, have been awarded a $410,000 grant from the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada and the MS Scientific Research Foundation to assess the efficacy of a mixed-method intervention to improve cognition in people with progressive MS. This four-year award funds a collaborative study with 11 centers across six countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, and the United States.

Cognitive dysfunction occurs in up to 70% of people with progressive MS, typically involving complex attention, information processing speed, memory, and executive functions. These impairments often lead to issues in interpersonal relationships and activities of daily living. In this study, researchers will evaluate the efficacy of a randomized, controlled trial of cognitive rehabilitation and aerobic exercise - individually and in combinations - to improve cognitive dysfunction in people with progressive MS.

"We predict that the combination of these two therapies will produce better outcomes than either one alone," remarked Dr. DeLuca, senior vice president of Research and Training at Kessler Foundation. "This is the first study to use such a comprehensive patient-population sample, incorporating people of various origins and ethnicities. By documenting the beneficial effect this intervention has on individuals with progressive MS, we begin to lay the foundation for the development of a universal treatment for cognitive dysfunction in this population."

Investigators expect to enroll 360 people with progressive MS through the 11 international centers. The intervention will take place over a 12-week period. In addition, a subgroup of 120 participants will undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging pre- and post-treatment.

"Following treatment, we expect neuroimaging to show increased brain activity in regions responsible for memory, learning, and executive functioning, indicating a clear correlation between the intervention and these positive brain changes," said Dr. Chiaravalloti, director of Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research and Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation. "We are honored to partner with research teams who share the same mission of improving social functioning, and ultimately, quality of life for people with MS."


About multiple sclerosis, the MS Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 50, and the unpredictable effects of MS last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides programs and services to people with MS and their families, advocates for those living with MS, and funds research to help improve the quality of life for people living with MS and to ultimately find a cure. The Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation funds large, innovative, multi-centre collaborative studies that will lead to major advances in the field of MS. A unique Canadian resource, the Foundation's main funding source is the MS Society of Canada. Please visit or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information. Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. Learn more by visiting

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