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 Estevez-Lopez, Modra Murovska, Julia L. Newton and the European Network on ME/CFS (EUROMENE) in Brain Sciences Vol 10, #1, p 4, Dec 2019


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.

Comment on Science4ME blog:

69 patients identified with Fukuda diagnosis, only 34 were able to complete C-PET and exercise program. No control group. A range of cognitive tests on the 34 showed some improvement in average performance after the activity program on a few of the tests relating to reaction time and accuracy, but the results were not significant when corrected for multiple comparisons. Despite this, the authors claim exercise is effective in improving cognitive function for some CFS patients.

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