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Energy Conservation Techniques to Decrease Fatigue

Published:April 04, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2019.01.005

      Purpose

      • To educate patients and their caregivers about fatigue and energy conservation techniques.
      • To provide general recommendations for energy conservation when dealing with fatigue.
      • To provide general and disease-specific resources for individuals affected by fatigue.

      What is fatigue?

      • Fatigue is a constant feeling of exhaustion that can lead to less energy to perform physical and mental work.
        • O’Sullivan S.B.
        • Schmitz T.J.
        • Fulk G.
        Physical rehabilitation.
        (p.182)
        • Fatigue is an individualized experience that affects each person differently.
        • There are many causes of fatigue. Some are more serious than others.
        • Fatigue may be related to physical health, mental health, weight, nutrition, medications, sleep habits, or a specific medical condition.
      • Your health care provider can help determine the difference between fatigue and sleepiness.
        • Wright J.
        • O’Connor K.M.
        Fatigue.
      • Rest and sleep help to reduce short-term fatigue.
      • Unrelenting exhaustion is more intense and lasts longer. Rest does not relieve it.
        • It decreases energy, motivation, and concentration.
        • It may affect emotional and psychosocial well-being.
        • People with unrelenting exhaustion may be tested for chronic fatigue syndrome.
        • Information on when to see a physician about continuous fatigue can be found at many medical information websites (several reliable sites are included in the resource section at the end of this document).
      • Many health care providers can help you manage your fatigue.
        • Talk to your primary care provider about your fatigue and discuss what treatment options are best for you.
        • Your primary care provider can make appropriate referrals and an individualized plan of care to address your fatigue concerns.
          • Sharpe M.
          • Wilks D.
          Fatigue.
        • Health care providers who can offer specialized treatment for fatigue, include: physicians, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and dieticians.

      What is energy conservation?

      • Energy conservation involves changing an activity or the environment to decrease the level of energy required to complete a task.
      • The goal is to improve a person’s ability to manage his/her fatigue throughout an entire day.
      • With proper use, an individual can decrease their overall level of fatigue while still being able to perform daily tasks and routines at home, at work, and in community.
        • O’Sullivan S.B.
        • Schmitz T.J.
        • Fulk G.
        Physical rehabilitation.
      Tabled 1
      General Recommendations for Energy Conservation
      Delegate tasksAsk for help with tiring activities. Tell family or friends if you need help with tasks that are difficult for you. Some people benefit from a home health aide to assist them. Ask your physician for more information if you think you could benefit from a home health aide.
      OrganizationBeing organized can help lower the amount of effort needed to do common tasks. Some examples at home include storing frequently used kitchen items on the counter to avoid lifting or reaching. Keep common household items such as paper towels and cleaning supplies on both floors if you live in a 2-story home.
      The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
      Saving energy and making work simple.
      This can prevent unnecessary trips between floors.
      Time managementUse a planner or smartphone to organize appointments. This can help make sure that multiple energy-consuming events are not happening too close together.
      Simplifying tasksBreak down time-consuming activities into smaller steps. For example, instead of cleaning your entire home at once, clean it in sections over a few days. Use electric or automatic appliances when possible, such as a dishwasher, electric mixer, or food processor.
      The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
      Saving energy and making work simple.
      Taking a seatStanding requires more energy than sitting. Sit down during activities such as dressing, bathing, cooking, folding laundry, and ironing. Consider using a stool or small bench for outdoor work.
      ClimateExtreme temperatures can place unnecessary energy demand on the body. Avoid doing activities in temperatures below 20oF or higher than 80oF with humidity. If you live in a very warm location, perform difficult tasks in the early morning or in the evening to avoid peak midday temperatures.
      The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
      Saving energy and making work simple.
      Proper body mechanicsUse good standing and sitting posture throughout the day. Use your leg muscles when lifting. Do not use your back muscles. Bend at the hips and knees to avoid injury. Avoid twisting your back.
      ErgonomicsErgonomics is the science of adapting job equipment and techniques to prevent stress and injury, including fatigue. During work-related activities, follow recommendations made by the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A resource on ergonomics on the OSHA website is available at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/.
      SleepA good night’s sleep helps maximize energy levels. Adults are recommended to have 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
      • Hirshkowitz M.
      • Whiton K.
      • Albert S.M.
      • et al.
      National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations: final report.
      For more restful sleep, limit naps during the daytime. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Increase exercise during the day.
      Medical equipmentSome people benefit from use of mobility equipment. Scooters, power wheelchairs, rolling walkers, and orthotics can help decrease the amount of energy used when walking.
      • O’Sullivan S.B.
      • Schmitz T.J.
      • Fulk G.
      Physical rehabilitation.
      Ask your physician if any equipment would be appropriate for you.
      Optimize community accessThese are strategies to use when out in the community. Park close to store entrances to decrease walking distance. Use a rolling cart or scooter instead of carrying a basket. Avoid shopping at busy times. Identify a place to take a rest break if needed.
      Disability parking tagTalk to your doctor to determine if a disability parking tag is a good option for you. This allows you to use the designated parking spots closer to the entrance and save some of your energy for the tasks you need to do once inside.
      Tabled 1
      Additional Resources for Specific Medical Conditions
      Cancer
      Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
      Multiple sclerosis
      Parkinson disease
      Stroke
      Arthritis
      Chronic fatigue syndrome

      Additional resources on fatigue

      Authorship

      This page was developed by Archana Vatwani, PT, DPT, MBA, CLWT, CDP (e-mail address: [email protected] ), and Rania Margonis, PT, DPT.

      Disclaimer

      This information is not meant to replace the advice from a medical professional and should not be used during any medical emergencies. The information presented serves as general guideline and is not meant to be an exhaustive list of recommendations. Consult your licensed health care provider regarding specific medical conditions, concerns, and/or treatment(s). This Information/Education Page may be reproduced for noncommercial use to share with patients and their caregivers. Any other reproduction is subject to approval by the publisher.

      References

        • O’Sullivan S.B.
        • Schmitz T.J.
        • Fulk G.
        Physical rehabilitation.
        6th ed. F.A. Davis, Philadelphia2014
        • Wright J.
        • O’Connor K.M.
        Fatigue.
        Med Clin North Am. 2014; 98: 597-608
        • Nordqvist C.
        Fatigue: why am I so tired and what can I do about it? Medical News Today.
        (Available at:) (Accessed February 15, 2019)
        • Mayo Clinic Staff
        Fatigue: causes.
        (Available at:) (Accessed October 28, 2017)
        • Sharpe M.
        • Wilks D.
        Fatigue.
        BMJ. 2002; 325: 480-483
        • Mayo Clinic Staff
        Fatigue: definition.
        (Available at:) (Accessed October 28, 2017)
        • The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
        Saving energy and making work simple.
        (Available at:) (Accessed November 10, 2017)
        • Hirshkowitz M.
        • Whiton K.
        • Albert S.M.
        • et al.
        National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations: final report.
        Sleep Health. 2015; 1: 233-243
        • National Sleep Foundation
        Sleep hygiene.
        (Available at:) (Accessed March 14, 2018)