Fatigue is one of the most common reasons why people consult health care providers. Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is one cause of clinically debilitating fatigue. The underdiagnosis of CFS/ME, along with the spectrum of symptoms that represent multiple reasons for entry into physical therapy settings, places physical therapists in a unique position to identify this health condition and direct its appropriate management. The diagnosis and clinical correlates of CFS/ME are becoming better understood, although the optimal clinical management of this condition remains controversial. The 4 aims of this perspective article are: (1) to summarize the diagnosis of CFS/ME with the goal of promoting the optimal recognition of this condition by physical therapists; (2) to discuss aerobic system and cognitive deficits that may lead to the clinical presentation of CFS/ME; (3) to review the evidence for graded exercise with the goal of addressing limitations in body structures and functions, activity, and participation in people with CFS/ME; and (4) to present a conceptual model for the clinical management of CFS/ME by physical therapists.
All authors provided concept/idea/project design. Dr Davenport, Dr Snell, and Dr Little provided writing. Dr VanNess and Dr Snell provided data collection and analysis, fund procurement, and facilities/equipment. Dr Davenport and Dr Snell provided project management and institutional liaisons. Dr Davenport provided clerical support. Dr Davenport, Ms Stevens, Dr Snell, and Dr Little provided consultation (including review of manuscript before submission).
- Received February 16, 2009.
- Accepted November 15, 2009.
- © 2010 American Physical Therapy Association