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LEMTRADA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Because of its risks, LEMTRADA is generally used in people who have tried 2 or more MS medicines that have not worked well enough. It is not known if LEMTRADA is safe and effective for use in children under 17 years of age.

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Outsmarting Your Brain When You Have Relapsing MS LEMTRADA patient blogger: Chad By Chad, Husband, Father, Software Engineer • April 23, 2018

LEMTRADA® (alemtuzumab) patient, Chad, sharing his tips to oursmart your brain while living with relapsing MS

Know what lesions remind me of? Potholes. Yes, I’m sure this sounds pretty strange to you. But hear me out.

If you’ve ever driven in New England in a snowstorm, you have seen the plows perform their much-appreciated service. You see heavy metal blades—no, not the musical kind— scraping over the road’s brittle surface. Sometimes part of the road is plowed up, which leaves some sort of scar, and a pothole is born.  

Sometimes the road damage is so severe that the potholes necessitate a road closure and detour signs erected. Thankfully we can employ our GPS to explore new paths around the problems.

Many—okay, probably most—of us living with relapsing MS have experienced some sort of cognitive issue. Here is what I’m thinking: I picture RMS lesions creating “potholes” or “detour signs” along neural pathways in the brain that our thoughts travel along. As stated earlier, this mental image is FAR from scientific. But it makes sense to me, so I’m sticking with it!

So what can be done? Potholes in the road can be repaired with a bit of asphalt and hard work, but what if scars along our neural pathways could be repaired, too? Well, presently there are no FDA-approved “repairs” for our scars (or in other words, lesions). But I like to think about employing our internal GPS to do the same job as the GPS we use in our cars. In other words, is it possible to exercise the brain and to find other neural pathways for our thoughts to travel on?

Here are a few ways I exercise my brain and attempt to use alternate neural pathways:

WORDS
Here’s a fact about me: When I was younger, reading a few pages from the dictionary before bed was something I enjoyed — and yes, I have been teased relentlessly for it. But now, online word games have replaced the large volume of words at my bedside. So no more teasing, at least about that...

Besides having GPS on my phone, I also have a few word games I play interactively with people all around this great sphere that we call Earth. This benefits me in multiple ways.

For starters, although these word games could be considered competitive, I play them to exercise my vocabulary and try to best my own personal score. Plus, seeing words I’ve never encountered before helps to build my personal thesaurus and enhance my diction.

I don’t always play the biggest word possible, but I try very hard to do so and some games will even notify me after the fact when I could have chosen a more complex word. So I continue learning and adding words to my repertoire, even if I don’t get points for it.

MUSIC
Melodies and rhythm tend to amplify my perception of life all around me. I dare say my love of words pales in comparison to my need for feeling music all around me.

Different points of view and different styles of music expand thoughts and cause me to contemplate their meanings. No, I don’t always listen to powerful symphonies or operas. In fact, I tend to indulge in all types of music; with a few exclusions that I won’t mention here because we all have different tastes... ツ

PURPOSE
I’ve saved the best for last. It is important to stay curious, to keep learning, and to continue pondering the questions posed centuries ago, which are part of the human condition regardless of having RMS or not. Why are we here and where are we going next? How did the universe come to be? What can we do here that can make a difference to others?

Questions about our existence have perplexed mankind since the beginning, and each person’s beliefs can be different.

These are a few of my favorite ways to stay mentally sharp. Some of you reading this may have an entirely different set of exercises to work the brain. So please let us know what ways you enjoy challenging your thinking. Stay sharp, my friends!

  • DIAGNOSIS
  • LIVING WITH RELAPSING MS
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