Article written

  • on 21.05.2009
  • at 08:51 PM
  • by Jessy Troy

ICU Getting Better a Lot Faster


daily physiotherapy led to better post-discharge functionThe traditional setting of an ICU ward, with the velvet hush of time suspended, and eerie green lights and snaking tubes and wires inside every dimly-lit cubicle, may soon be but a memory. The ever-present slurp, exhale of the life-giving ventilators may soon give way to more of the clack, slide, of walkers and the quiet, gentle murmurings of physical therapists. According to, referring to an article in HealthDay News that originally appeared in The Lancet Online, studies about the benefits of exercise critical care patients are being done to give more hope to the loved ones and medical care givers of critically ill patients in ICU.

A new study performed at the University of Chicago confirms what many neurologists and physical therapists have been touting for a long time: gentle, intermittent exercise of the critically ill patient could prove to be beneficial to those recovering from a stint in the ICU. The study, led by Dr John Cress, examined evidence that waking the patient from the induced sedation of other-worldly oblivion and putting them through gentle exercises will help promote quicker healing time when the patient is in the recovery process. Some of the most common side effects of enduring such prolonged inactivity include generalized weakness and diseases of the brain and psyche.

The results of the study were validated by the testimony of two prominent Swiss doctors, Stephen M. Jakob, MD, and Jukka Takala, MD, of the University Hospital in Switzerland, in their commentary to the study, “Exercise should have a central role in the treatment of critically ill patients…”. They go on to note the US is a good example of a country that does use physical therapy as an avenue of ensuring a quick, progressive recovery in critically ill patients. However, they point out uniformity and continuity are sorely lacking from one hospital or clinic to the next.

Researchers, clinicians, doctors and other medical personnel are already utilizing the knowledge we have acquired from the study and others like it. More research will take more money, something our federal and state governments are sorely lacking at the present time. While it may be up to the individual hospitals and clinics to administer their own programs and versions of the revolutionary studies, there is hope on the horizon. It is very plausible to imagine the practice of exercising the patients to promote faster healing will eventually be a established procedure across the nation, with standard protocol for its implementation.

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