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Arch Hellen Med, 32(6), November-December 2015, 713-723


Post-intensive care unit rehabilitation: Reducing the long-term effects of muscle weakness

I. Patsaki, V. Gerovasili, G. Sidiras, C. Routsi, V. Markaki, S. Nanas
First Critical Care Department, "Evangelismos" General Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

The development in treatment techniques and care of critically ill patients has contributed to their increased survival. The surviving patients present a wide range of complications (e.g., muscle atrophy and weakness, limited functional and physical ability, contractures, depression, anxiety, cognitive disorders) from prolonged stay in the intensive care unit (ICU). Early identification of those patients needing prolonged rehabilitation is essential. Early mobilization of patients is beneficial, but survivors need a personalized and intensive rehabilitation program even after leaving the hospital, as they may have significant limitation in mobility and functionality. Additional complications such as depression, anxiety, hallucinations, and cognition disorders make the application of exercise somewhat difficult. Various forms of exercise have been used to improve strength, endurance and physical fitness, such as electrical stimulation of the lower limbs, cycloergometer and programs of active exercise conducted either at home or in a rehabilitation center. This is a review of the therapeutic interventions used during and after the patients' hospital stay. Restoration of muscular function is a dynamic process which continues after discharge from the hospital, in a rehabilitation center or at home, and it results in achievement of the patient's functional independence and return to everyday life.

Key words: ICU-acquired weakness, Post-intensive care syndrome, Rehabilitation.

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