A Physiotherapist’s Guide to Understanding and Managing ME/CFS

By David Tuller, DrPH

A new book, A Physiotherapist’s Guide to Understanding and Managing ME/CFS, has arrived at a timely moment. With so many long Covid patients being diagnosed with ME or ME/CFS, it is essential that physiotherapists—or physical therapists, in the US—grasp the essentials of the disease, and in particular the existence of post-exertional malaise (PEM).

The book, which came out last month, was co-authored by four British physiotherapists—Karen Leslie, Dr Michelle Bull, Dr Nicola Clague-Baker, and Natalie Hilliard. In 2019, the four of them founded an organization, Physios for ME, in order to “to research, educate and advocate to improve physiotherapy management for people with ME.” According to the website:

“We are aware that people with ME may come into contact with physiotherapists in many services; musculoskeletal, neurological, community, paediatrics, pain, fatigue, rheumatology, private practice – as well as specialist ME clinics…However, education about ME is limited for most physiotherapists and current guidelines do not reflect more recent evidence about the potential harm of some treatment approaches.”

I recently spoke with two of the four authors about why they wrote the book, how they formed Physios for ME in the first place, and related issues.