Friday, 10 August 2012

Power of the Brain in CFS

The BBC has recently reported on a study published in PLoS ONE that suggests exercise and behavioural therapies are the most effective and successful ways to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (the full article is here). Having completed the Expert Patient Programme, this does not surprise me, but it does please me that scientific journals are covering such reports.

Although the focus of the BBC report is on cost savings, I think the personal benefits can also be significant. Professor Michael Sharpe from Oxford University sums up what I hope will be the impact of this study: "this new evidence should encourage health service commissioners to provide these treatments to all those patients who need them."

Interestingly, this study has been criticised by patient groups who prefer "pacing therapies". I am not sure how 'pacing' counts as a therapy, as  from my experience it is just limiting everything you do. I have certainly done it, but find the mental consequences very difficult. Exercise and behavioural therapies are a much more positive and proactive way of managing these conditions. If exercise and cognitive therapies work, that by no means makes the illness all in the mind. Getting over that hurdle could open many more people to proactive positive self-management that means they can miss out on less in life!

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