Early physiotherapy in the respiratory intensive care unit

Physiotherapy is an integral part of the management of patients in
respiratory intensive care units (RICUs). The most important aim in this area is to
enhance the overall patient’s functional capacity and to restore his/her respiratory
and physical independence, thus decreasing the risks of bed rest associated
complications. This article is a review of evidence-based effectiveness of weaning
practices and physiotherapy treatment for patients with respiratory insufficiency in
a RICU. Literature searches were performed using general and specialty databases
with appropriate keywords.
The evidence for applying a weaning process and physiotherapy techniques in
these patients has been described according to their individual rationale and
efficacy.
The growing number of patients treated in RICUs all over the world makes this non
pharmacological approach both welcome and interesting. However, to date, there
are only strong recommendations concerning the evidence-based strategies to speed
weaning. Early physiotherapy may be effective in ICU: however, most techniques
(postures, limb exercise and percussion/vibration in particular) need to be further
studied in a large population. Evidence supporting physiotherapy intervention is
limited as there are no studies examining the specific effects of interventions on
long-term outcome.

Early physiotherapy in the respiratory intensive care unit

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