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Inpatient program swamped by children with chronic fatigue

Tuesday 9 February 2010

ChildAustralian newspaper The Age reports on unprecedented demand for a Melbourne CFS inpatient program:

Inpatient program swamped by children with chronic fatigue


February 7, 2010

A surge in diagnosed cases means desperate families are waiting months for specialist help.

AUSTRALIA'S only chronic fatigue inpatient program for children is struggling to cope with increased demand as kids as young as 10 seek help for the debilitating condition.

The head of the program at Melbourne's Austin Hospital says the number of children admitted to its intensive four-week inpatient program has almost doubled in the past two years, with new patients forced to wait up to six months for a bed.

Pediatrician Lionel Lubitz says he has been forced to open the doors to desperate families from around Australia as no other publicly funded adolescent inpatient programs exist. But the service has received no extra funds from other states.

Dr Lubitz says the clinic treats about 30 children a year, mostly aged 13 to 16, who are so ill they have to be hospitalised, compared to 18 two years ago. Fifty more are seen as outpatients.

"These kids don't just feel a bit tired, they feel drained. They can fall asleep in the classroom or fall down because they just can't hold their head up. Telling them to just pull themselves together can make them worse because they feel they're failures because they can't do anything about it," Dr Lubitz said.

"They don't feel rested even after a sleep … They get muscle pain, joint pain, abdominal pain and can't focus and concentrate or do their schoolwork because their head feels too foggy."

Chronic fatigue is often triggered by illnesses such as glandular fever or flu, but medical opinion remains divided on whether the condition has a physical or psychological root. Its symptoms and recovery rates vary widely between patients.

Dr Lubitz said the increased number of children in the program was partly due to a funding boost from the Austin that allowed the clinic to accept more patients. But the hospital was struggling to meet demand, with 30 children on the waiting list.

He said it was unclear whether the prevalence of the condition had increased or if more children were being diagnosed due to greater public awareness of chronic fatigue.

The full article can be found here.

Disclaimer: We must point out the CFS inpatient program mentioned in the article above involves activities such as hydrotherapy, gym training and cognitive behaviour therapy, all of which have been shown in many CFS patients to be ineffective and, in some cases, dangerously counterproductive, resulting in relapses. When embarking on any new treatment we advise caution as well as thorough consultation with medical professionals.



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