Ask yourself this, do you become fatigued?

Fatigue is a feeling of lethargy, shortness of breath or palpitations that occur during or after an activity. It affects your ability to function and your independence in everyday activities. Following a lengthy hospital stay, patients often tire more easily than they used to. This results in deconditioning due to lack of activity and can cause a loss of strength and endurance. If you have a chronic condition and you find that your energy level is low, it becomes more important to learn about managing your energy.

What is Energy Conservation

Energy conservation refers to the way activities are done to minimize muscle fatigue, joint stress, and pain.
By using your body efficiently and doing things in a sequential way, you can save your energy.

Benefits

Energy Conservation can help if you have one of following medical conditions. 

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is probably the most common medical condition that can benefit from Energy Conservation.  Depending on the type of M.S., even the most subtle movements cause infinite fatigue and/or pain. 

Acute/Chronic Respiratory Failure

Energy conservation with respiratory patients often boils down to conserving oxygen for the brain. Frequently, these patients are on an oxygen supplement either daily or as needed. Over-expenditure of physical movement can result in oxygen desaturation (unsafe numbers dropping below 90% saturation).

Sometimes oxygen desaturation can be asymptomatic. Other times, it will result in increased fatigue, discoloration of the skin, nausea, and dizziness. When this happens, it is essential for the person to sit with their back supported or lay down with their head slightly elevated. In combination with ECT education, OTs can also promote the consistent use of a pulse oximeter so that the patient can track when they are doing too much and need to cut back.

Congestive Heart Failure and Other Cardiac Conditions

Patients with a history of cardiac dysfunction or congestive heart failure will come with a set of precautions as ordered by their primary physicians. Lifting precautions are the most common (i.e. not lifting anything above the head, lifting less than 5-10 lbs), especially after cardiac surgery.

Occupational therapy comes into play to assist in redesigning the individual’s lifestyle. If the patient is accustomed to household and yard chores that call for heavy lifting (moving boxes, carrying groceries, shoveling dirt, mowing the lawn, etc.), then the patient and the OT will work together to simplify those chores or eliminate tasks that are unnecessary.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. (ALS) is a progressively crippling disease that eventually takes the individual’s life. Unfortunately, it mercilessly takes away their quality of life for up to several years before death occurs. Occupational Therapy has a vital role throughout those years as the symptoms change for the patient.

Repetitive Use Injuries

With repetitive use injuries, the goal of energy conservation is to minimize pain and movement to promote the healing of tissue and/or bone. Health care providers such as nursing staff are often subject to repetitive use injuries because of the physical strain of transferring patients.

Occupational therapists who work in the same facilities can provide transfer training and body mechanics education to prevent unnecessary injury. However, pain and injury can still occur despite the training.