The development and feasibility of a ward-based physiotherapy and nutritional rehabilitation package for people experiencing critical illness

Clin Rehabil. 2010 Jun;24(6):489-500. doi: 10.1177/0269215509360639. Epub 2010 Apr 21.


Objective: To investigate ward-based rehabilitation after critical illness and undertake a pilot study exploring the feasibility of delivering enhanced physiotherapy and nutritional rehabilitation.

Design: Service evaluation (part A) and pilot feasibility randomized controlled trial (part B).

Setting: Hospital inpatient wards following discharge from intensive care.

Participants: Part A involved 24 people with an intensive care stay of four days or more. Part B involved 16 participants randomized into a control (n = 8) or intervention (n = 8) group.

Interventions: Part A defined the current 'standard' physiotherapy and nutritional interventions. In part B the control group received this 'standard' service while the intervention group received this 'standard' service plus enhanced rehabilitation.

Main measures: Part A collected process outcomes of current interventions and outcomes that included calorie and protein intake and the Rivermead Mobility Index. In part B process outcomes determined differences between groups. Outcomes included those undertaken in part A plus an incremental shuttle test, handgrip dynamometry and visual analogue scales.

Results: Part A found low levels of ward-based physiotherapy (walking and transfer practice once per week) and dietetic input (0.8 visits per week). Part B found an increased frequency of both physiotherapy (P = 0.002) and dietetic (P = 0.001) visits in the intervention group. Physical and nutritional outcomes were suitable for use after critical illness, but no statistically significant differences were found between groups. Power calculations indicated 100 participants per group would be required for a definitive study.

Conclusions: This feasibility pilot work has informed the design of a larger study to evaluate enhanced rehabilitation following critical illness.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Critical Illness / rehabilitation*
  • Diet Therapy
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Pilot Projects