Could cognitive training help with walking?

For the last few weeks I have been doing cognitive training, on the computer. I have noticed - or thought I might be noticing - a slight improvement in my walking. I did wonder whether it might be a result of the cognitive training and then I came across an academic article with this title “A randomized trial to measure the impact of a community-based cognitive training intervention on balance and gait in cognitively intact Black older adults”.

Has anyone heard of cognitive training helping people with MS improve their walking? I am excited about this - I have been very down about the idea that I might have made my walking worse by taking Fampyra, so very happy if I could do something about it.

a very complex subject.

Could it be he other way round - as your walking improves your cognitive skills improve. I find that when I’ve been swimming I am physically better and I can think ‘straighter’

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Never heard of it, and slightly sceptical, as that would surely imply there was a psychosomatic element to the walking difficulties, which I think is unlikely, with MS.

You don’t say what type of cognitive training you are doing.

I find I can improve performance at some tasks (including walking) simply by concentrating harder. So I stumble less if I mentally recite: “heel down first, heel first…” as I walk, to remind me to strike the ground in the correct way.

I’m not sure I would go so far as to call this “cognitive training”, although it does rely on thought. I was taught it by a neuro physio years ago, when I’d had my first confirmed “attack”, and was awaiting diagnosis. It’s not normal to have to think about how to walk, but I do seem to get on better when I do.

It’s not easy to explain - though slightly easier to people with MS, as I think you’ll know - but there are many things I can still do, but only if I think about how to do them properly. These are things - like walking - that used to be automatic, with no conscious thought at all. I even have to think about peeing, for goodness sake! So I don’t know if this is “cognitive training”, but it’s definitely applying conscious thought to whatever it is I’m asking my body to do.


This is not a paper about psychosomatic effects. These are real effects. The idea is that you sit at your computer for half an hour a day for a few weeks and then your walking and your balance improve. Very unlikely but very exciting if it is true. No drugs - and how much improvement could you see? Like I said, I’ve been doing this for about a month and I think I’ve seen improvement.

I didn’t put the name of the cognitive training that I am doing on here because I’m sure it would break advertising rules - but pm me if you want to know it. Here’s the link to the scientific paper on the improvements they saw in older people, who were previously having problems with falls, if anyone is interested:

I think you’ve misunderstood what I’m saying. My argument is if it improves using psychological techniques, then there must have been a psychosomatic element in the first place. I’m not saying the improvements aren’t real, but it makes me question what was the nature of the problem, if psychology can help.

I’m not sure you can extrapolate from “older people” (who may have nothing objectively wrong with them) to people with CNS damage. I don’t understand how cognitive training could make nerve signals get through when they just can’t, for example. MS isn’t a state of mind, any more than a broken leg is.

I assumed that the cognitive behaviour had improved how you were coping with other things and being more relaxed took some pressure off you. Being more relaxed/content might give more energy to cope with physical issues?

Not sure if I’ve made much sense! :slight_smile:

These weren’t improvements using ‘psychological techniques’. Cognitive training is exercising your brain (as opposed to exercising your muscles). I think I have seen some (small) improvement in my walking from doing it - I thought this before I read the scientific article about it.

I thought people on here might be interested in a drug-free way of improving their walking. But I’m easy about it if that’s not the case.

Hi Sewingchick

Thanks for posting - I will have a look at the paper. If I understand you correctly, you are not talking about psychosomatic effects but a way of exercising the brain which leads to physical changes; what you describe chimes with what I’ve been reading about brain plasticity in:

Anitra I too focus on the minutiae of walking - heel down, toes up, don’t ‘scissor’ - hoping that these repeated actions will form new pathways. It’s all a bit tiring after a (short!) while, though :frowning:

Hope all is well

B x

Hi Sewingchick

In my usual way, I wasn’t paying proper attention! Sorry :confused:

I was thinking Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and not Cognitive training! I suspect that some others have made the same mistake as me.

What you say is very interesting and I am going to look in to it further.

Thank you for posting x

Oops, just noticed the reply I’d posted on here made absolutely no sense - I meant to reply to the Grand Designs thread from a couple days ago, but accidentally wrote it on this one . I’ve deleted that comment now though.

Anyway. On this subject, obviously I don’t know exactly what the training is. But I wonder if it might be because, like Tina said, cognitive training will help your brain to concentrate and, therefore, your brain will be concentrating more (subconsciously or consciously) on what it is meant to be doing when you’re walking.

It sounds interesting though, thanks for sharing.


I twigged that your house building comments were intended for a different thread!

Sounds interesting :slight_smile: