Acute fatigue in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients

BACKGROUND: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients often complain
that they are more susceptible to acute mental fatigue. It is
important to determine whether this is observed using
objective tests of sustained attention and responding.

METHODS: Sixty-seven patients who fulfilled the criteria for
CFS proposed by Sharpe et al. (1991) were compared with 126
matched healthy controls. Acute fatigue was assessed by
comparing performance at the start and end of a lengthy test
session and by examining changes over the course of individual

RESULTS: CFS patients showed impaired performance
compared to the controls and these differences increased as
the volunteers developed acute fatigue. In addition,
differences between the two groups were larger at the end of
the test session.

CONCLUSIONS: The present results show that
CFS patients are more susceptible to acute fatigue than
healthy controls. This could reflect motor fatigue or an
inability to compensate for fatigue with increased effort.
This profile is consistent with previous research on fatigue
and suggests that interpretation of certain aspects of CFS may
be helped by considering it as the end point of a continuum of
fatigue rather than a distinct disease.

Smith AP, Borysiewicz L, Pollock J, Thomas M, Perry K, Llewelyn M

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