Working it out with ME

THE Sussex ME Society that cares for those affected by Myalgic encephalopathy (ME) or Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in the Hastings and Bexhill area is currently highlighting the cognitive problems sometimes experienced by people with the illness as this aspect is often not generally recognised.

Cognitive deficits are often the principal disabling feature of ME. Such deficits restrict the patient’s ability to function, plan, and complete tasks in real world settings. Documented deficits include impaired working memory, slowed processing speed, decreased concentration and attention span, difficulty with word retrieval, and increased distractibility.

Cognitive functioning may be disrupted by multiple stimuli and fast paced activity. Patients may be unable to sustain such efforts over prolonged periods where consistent performance (e.g., work, school) is required. Intense cognitive activity in itself can bring about diminished cognitive functioning as well as other post-exertional symptoms in a manner similar to that caused by physical exertion.

Many affected by ME do not look ill and apart from maybe appearing tired and weak others would not realise that at times perfectly intelligent people find it impossible to concentrate or respond appropriately to situations often making them vulnerable and unable to stick up for themselves.

ME that can sometimes follow a viral infection or trauma and last for years affects more than 6,000 adults and children across Sussex a number of whom are virtually housebound and in need of care.

The Department of Health classifies ME/CFS as a neurological disorder and a NHS specialist service based in Sussex has dealt with more than 3,500 referrals since being established in 2005 helped by the Sussex ME Society.

We can be reached on 01273 674828 or see www.measussex.org.uk.

COLIN BARTON

Chairman

Sussex ME Society

www.measussex.org.uk