Objective: To estimate the prevalence of chronic conditions and/or disability in intensive care units admitting children (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit [PICU]) or both neonates and children (Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit [NPICU]) and to describe available rehabilitation resources.
Design: A cross-sectional study on two separate days, using a web questionnaire.
Setting: NPICU/PICUs affiliated to the Groupe Francophone de Réanimation et Urgences Pédiatriques and the Réseau Mère-Enfant de la Francophonie.
Patients: Children >1 month of gestationally corrected age.
Measurements and main results: Disability was defined as a Pediatric Overall Performance Category >or=3 before admission and chronic conditions as hospitalization since birth or the presence before admission of any condition requiring ongoing pediatric subspecialty care that was expected to last >or=12 months. Intensivists indicated what rehabilitation services they would have ideally prescribed ("perceived needs") and those provided. Of 45 affiliated units, 8 PICUs and 15 NPICUs participated. Staff included or had access to a psychologist (11 and 5, respectively), a social worker (10 and 3), a physiotherapist (11 and 12), a "psychomotrician" (2 and 8), a child educator (1 and 6), and a speech-language pathologist (0 and 6). Among 289 recorded intensive care unit-days, 236 were analyzed (excluding those for children admitted after surgery): 57 concerned children hospitalized since birth and 179 children admitted from home. Among these 179 recorded intensive care unit-days, 107 concerned children with chronic conditions (including 50 concerning disabled children) and 72 previously healthy children. Thus, prevalence of chronic conditions, including children hospitalized since birth, was 67%. Rehabilitation services included respiratory physical therapy (552 visits), musculoskeletal physical therapy (71), neurologic physical therapy (37), rehabilitation for swallowing (11), and for speech-language disorders (1), representing 79% of perceived needs.
Conclusions: Prevalence of chronic conditions in NPICU/PICU was 67%. More attention must be paid to the rehabilitation care needs of patients during their NPICU/PICU stay and after discharge.