Self-Guided Physiotherapy can help Chronic Fatigue Sufferers
A new study reveals significant benefits of graded exercise therapy for patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue
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Scientists at Queen Mary University in London have conducted research into how guided graded exercise self-help (GES) affects patients who suffer with chronic fatigue, compared to traditional physiotherapy.
Over a 12 week period, 200 chronic fatigue patients were monitored; one half received regular GES sessions from a specialist over the phone or via skype, which enabled them to gradually increase their physical activity levels on a daily basis. The other half attended regular physio sessions with a qualified professional.
Both groups were asked to score their fatigue and physical function levels at the beginning and end of the 12 week study period, against the official chronic fatigue system (CFS). If a person scores a lower fatigue score on this scale, then this indicates more energy, as does a higher score for physical function.
By the end of the study, the individuals in the GES group recorded fatigue levels which were on average four points lower on the CFS scale than those who had only received traditional physiotherapy. The GES group also saw their overall physical function increase by an average of six CFS points, showing that those who were encouraged to take more control of their physical activity levels saw a large improvement.
Dr Lucy Clark, lead author of the study, explained: "Graded exercise focuses on improving routines and changing physical activity patterns ... the aim is to progress carefully to improve, under the supervision of a CFS-experienced therapist, rather than pushing people too hard and towards a setback.
"Offering the therapy as a self-help approach supervised by a physiotherapist could increase access and avoid the fatiguing efforts of travel for the intervention."