Patients with CFS have an illness that causes them to tire easily upon exertion. Most exercise usually makes the condition worse. As a result, they tend to stop exercising altogether and often continue to deteriorate. The following explanation offers a solution to this apparent double bind.
Rebound exercise was studied by NASA in the 1970s in regard to astronauts returning to earth from low-earth orbit. After six months in orbit, they lost their autonomic nervous system capacity to stand in a gravitational field. When they took the astronauts out of the capsule, they had to drag them out horizontally because they would faint on standing. They had a disautonomic condition similar to chronic fatigue syndrome patients. NASA determined that the best way to bring back the autonomic nervous system was to “bounce” the astronauts with a bungee cord apparatus. This up and down motion sets a wave-like input into the brain and essentially regulates autonomic tone and improves the autonomic nervous system. Rebound exercise is the best form of exercise for these patients. It’s very easy, non-weight bearing, and does a very important job in autonomic tone in a population that has difficulty with exercise. You can add in arms, legs and abdominal motion while bouncing, to tolerance. The most important thing about exercise is to not have aerobic exercise. I even believe progressive aerobic exercise, especially in the early, severe stage of the disease is counter-productive. When the patients get much better they’re more able to do progressive aerobic exercise, but that should not be the focus in the beginning.
Studies conducted at the Medical College of Virginia have shown that ‘kinetic therapy’ – the constant, gentle motion of a rocking chair – can dramatically speed healing in severely ill patients. With regular rocking, starting with one hour a day the first week, increasing the exercise period by 10 minutes a day each succeeding week, ‘the body settles into a natural rhythm that harnesses incredible powers of recuperation and regeneration,’ says Dr. Heinrich Addleheim of the Kinetic Therapy Clinic in Berlin. ‘We’ve seen cases of patients recuperating from heart attack and stroke – without any trace of permanent damage – simply because they used a rocking chair while they were recovering. I’ve seen people bedridden with arthritis who were up and around inside a week after regular use of the rocking chair.
It can be used to cure colds, flu, diabetes and even some types of cancer. It’s not just a piece of furniture – it’s a remarkable medical device.
Hydrotherapy is a treatment format for chronic fatigue syndrome. It utilizes the significant gradient pressure of water as the patient floats vertically or stands upright in water to the neck. The intense water pressure gradient, which varies as the square of the depth, forces tissue lymph up through the thoracic duct and back into the venous blood system. The resulting expansion of blood volume as well as the immune modulation effects of rapid lymphatic fluid transfusion probably account for the improvement generally seen over the first four to six months of therapy. Lymphatic fluid resembles gamma globulin in terms of some of its content and immune effects. Secondary effects from the temperature of the water and mild activity may also account for some of the benefit. Time in the water, temperature of the water and the frequency of therapy are variables which appear to affect the therapeutic response. The effect of these variables on therapeutic response are very patient dependent and cannot be predicted in advance. Some patients can be made quite ill from hydrotherapy but long term benefits can be seen despite difficulties early on or during therapy. Moderating the therapeutic variables or a temporary hold on therapy can allow continuation of therapy over the long haul with improvement across a range of CFS related symptoms.