More than Mobility: Which Diagnoses Have Cognitive Involvement?

Understandably, during a seating & wheeled mobility evaluation, most attention can be focused on questions such as range of motion, shoulder and arm strength, repositioning, and the ability to reach and maneuver a joystick. But for many people who use wheelchairs, cognitive involvement is also part of their diagnoses.

In addition to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis, which diagnoses that you’re likely to see in clinic commonly have cognitive components?

Parkinson’s disease: The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation says most Parkinson’s patients are cognitively affected, resulting in “slowness in memory and thinking.”

Huntington’s disease: Difficulties with thinking, remembering, organizing, making judgments, communications and visual spatial ability, plus a lack of awareness of potentially dangerous situations, can result from damage to neurons and neural connections, according to the Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford University.

Spinal Cord Injury: A University of Maryland School of Medicine study in November 2014 said, “Spinal cord injuries can cause widespread and sustained brain inflammation that leads to progressive loss of nerve cells, with associated cognitive problems and depression, researchers have found for the first time.”

Spastic Cerebral Palsy: “Evidence points to specific impairment of attentional, visuospatial, and executive functions, although both attention and executive functions are relatively unexplored in spastic cerebral palsy,” according to a report by the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Mobility Management.

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