Living with multiple sclerosis can lead to a wide variety of symptoms. Among those that could impact quality of life are communication issues, according to a new study.
A team of scientists from Australia’s University of Sydney reviewed online questionnaires from 260 people with MS to evaluate whether they experienced any changes that affected their ability to communicate. The study authors found that the majority of participants — 75.8 percent — said they had experienced communication changes, such as:
Stress, heat, and fatigue were among the factors that influenced communication changes, the study participants reported. Although the majority of study participants did indicate that they were affected by communication problems, just 11.2 percent had accessed services provided by speech-language pathologists, the researchers said.
Communication issues can have an impact far beyond simply being another MS symptom. In daily life, problems with communicating were found to affect participants’ interpersonal relationships, psychological well-being, career pathways, workforce identity, and social lives.
The study authors concluded that the health care community should work harder to raise awareness of how speech-language pathology services can help those with MS manage changes in communication. Helping people with MS navigate these issues when they arise could reduce the impact of communication changes on other areas of life.