ICU patients get moving sooner, recover faster

Doctors are moving ICU patients into rehab faster with good results. Dr. Manley Jordan, critical care specialist and pulmonologist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, said, "there's a fear I think of all the tubes and catheters and connections we have to monitors the patients. There was a fear of hurting the patient or dislodging one of the monitoring leads." Now, he said, specially trained physical therapists can work with a patient still attached to monitors and ventilators with a goal of getting patients moving at least two times daily.

"As soon as they get here we begin whatever the patient can do whether it's passive range of motion or sitting at the bedside," explained Dr. Jordan.

The movement "prevents blood clots in the legs that can cause pulmonary emboli. Certainly prevents bed sores, which are a big issue these days and helps with pulmonary hygiene which gets more air in and out of the lungs and lessens the likelihood of infection," said Dr. Jordan.

The motion helps rebuild strength, but it can also aid with emotional recovery.

"They don't get to look at x-rays or lab work to know they are improving. They can sit up on the edge of the bed and start standing and walking. They realize they are getting better and that makes a tremendous impact on the recovery."

The concept of ICU rehab is relatively new, said Dr. Jordan, though Lake Charles Memorial started the program in 2005.

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