Physiotherapists are a key part of ensuring that people with
chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)
get the treatment they need to deal with their long-term condition.
In new guidance, leading physios have highlighted that their role in ME care needs to be based around the relationship with the individual.
Published by the British Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME (BACME) earlier this month (August 4th), the report gives advice on how to manage the symptoms associated with the condition.
This is valuable as even when a person has had an ME diagnosis for a number of years, new symptoms can still appear, which need careful management and analysis to ensure no additional pathology has developed, it says.
The BACME is open to all health professionals, and researchers based in the UK who are involved in diagnosing and treating CFS/ME.
According to the voluntary organisation, the new document includes a checklist and guide for the treatment of CFS/ME in the NHS by a range of health professionals, including physiotherapists.
Split into main sections, the guide explores both symptom management for patients and guidance for the professionals who treat them. The document is intended to provide information about the symptoms of CFS/ME, which could support people who have been diagnosed with the condition recently or for a number of years.
For professionals, there is a list of resources about therapies, as well as guidance on support and supervision.
The report says how a central budget of £8.5 million was allocated to improve CFS/ ME services in England back in 2003. This saw the creation of 13 centres and 36 local teams for adult services, with 11 specialist teams for children and young people between 2004 and 2006.
As a consequence, some of the biggest challenges associated with caring for people with a long-term condition are a result of coordinating these services to make sure patients get the expert to manage their illness.
Its aim is to ensure that all specialists can collaborate together to make sure the patient gets the highest standard of care, which often involves a number of different services from a wide range of professionals.
The document encourages physios, along with other professionals, to develop a consensus approach to treatment when treating both children and adults with ME. It says that the approach has been based on clinician expertise, patient experience and the best available evidence.
Peter Gladwell, a clinical specialist physio at North Bristol NHS Trust’s CFS/ME service, spoke to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy magazine Frontline. Calling the BACME guide a “state-of-the-art” framework for therapy, he said it can be used to help physios develop an individualised care plan.
Many physios had help developing the document, along with other professionals, he added, making it particularly useful as it is designed to help both physiotherapists and patients.
He said: “I think this can help to foster shared decision-making about rehabilitation.”
Written by Mathew Horton