A controversial therapy for ME that involves intensively training the mind to ward off negative thoughts helps get children back to school, a new study has found.
Written off as “pseudoscience” by some experts, the Lightning Process also improves anxiety and physical function in teenagers, according to a trial by the University of Bristol.
ME, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, affects at least one per cent of secondary school children in the UK.
These are children that really suffer, they don't go to school, their parents stop working
Professor Esther Crawley, University of Bristol
The Lightning Process intervention, which attempts to modify the brain's thought patterns to reduce stress-related hormones, was designed by British osteopath Phil Parker in the late 1990s.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, by contrast, can take many weeks to have an effect.
Academics from the University of Bristol and the University of Nottingham recruited 100 youngsters aged 12 to 18 with mild or moderate CFS/ME.
Half of them received specialist medical care and half LP alongside this care.
The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, found that children who received the additional LP had improved physical function at six months and this difference increased further still at 12 months.
Professor Esther Crawley, who led the research, said that if the findings were confirmed by larger studies, NHS bosses should consider funding the treatment, which currently costs £620 per child.
"These are children that really suffer, they don't go to school, their parents stop working, they have depression and anxiety,” she said.
"This is a study that shows that with this additional treatment, children are walking further, are climbing more stairs, they are less fatigued, less anxious, they are less depressed. It looks like they have less pain.”