The impact of a structured exercise programme upon Cognitive Function in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients, by Paweł Zalewski, Sławomir Kujawski, Malwina Tudorowska, Karl Morten, Małgorzata Tafil-Klawe, Jacek J Klawe, James Strong, Fernando Estévez-López , Modra Murovska, Julia L Newton and the European Network on ME/CFS (EUROMENE) in Brain Sci. 2020, 10(1), 4 []


Research abstract: 


Cognitive function disturbance is a frequently described symptom of myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). In this study, the effects of a structured exercise programme (SEP) upon cognitive function in ME/CFS patients was examined.


Out of the 53 ME/CFS patients initiating SEP 34 (64%) completed the 16 week programme. Cognitive function was assessed using a computerized battery test consisting of a Simple Reaction Time (SRT) (repeated three times) and Choice Reaction Time (CRT) measurements, a Visual Attention Test (VAT) and a Delayed Matching to Sample (DMS) assessment.


Statistically significant improvement was noted in the third attempt to SRT in reaction time for correct answers, p = 0.045, r = 0.24. Moreover, significant improvement was noted in VAT reaction time, number of correct answers and errors committed, p = 0.02, omega = 0.03, p = 0.007, r = 0.34 and p = 0.004, r = 0.35, respectively. Non-significant changes were noted in other cognitive tests.


A substantial number of participants were unwilling or unable to complete the exercise programme. ME/CFS patients able to complete the SEP showed improved visual attention both in terms of reaction time and correctness of responses and processing speed of simple visual stimuli.


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