You’ve all heard the phrase “use it or lose it” before. But should it be applied to patients with chronic, debilitating illnesses? That’s an ongoing debate in the PatientsLikeMe forums. Take for example this discussion of cognitive difficulties in our Multiple Sclerosis Forum.
On the one hand, there’s the argument that brain exercises such as word games can help you recover or improve cognitive skills. For people who like the idea of challenging themselves to stay as sharp as possible, the phrase can be a motivating call-to-action. Others, however, are bothered by the phrase as they feel it implies that cognitive decline is the patient’s fault. Or that it makes it seem like “using” can stop the “losing,” which could be misleading in many cases.
Overall, this controversy is one that can help can help friends, family and the public at large be more sensitive to those with cognitive challenges due to their health condition. “Brain fog” is a common symptom of numerous chronic diseases, including multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. While there’s a natural instinct to encourage loved ones, it’s important to remember that every patient’s journey is an individual one, and no amount of “using it” can necessarily prevent cognitive symptoms.
What everyone seems to agree on, however, it that brain games and memory exercises certainly can’t hurt. What do you think? Join the discussion in our forum or share your thoughts in the comments section.