Chest physiotherapy effectiveness to reduce hospitalization and mechanical ventilation length of stay, pulmonary infection rate and mortality in ICU patients

Respir Med. 2013 Jan;107(1):68-74. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2012.09.016. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


Introduction: Although physiotherapy is an integral part of the multiprofessional team in most ICUs there is only limited evidence concerning the effectiveness of its procedures. The objectives of this study were to verify if physiotherapy care provided within 24 h/day for hospitalized patients in the ICU reduce the length of stay, mechanical ventilation support, pulmonary infection and mortality compared to a physiotherapy care provided within 6 h/day.

Methods: A cohort study was designed to assess differences between one hospital where patients were given physiotherapy care for 24 h/day and another hospital with only 6 h/day. We considered the following as outcome measurements: clinical diagnosis, medication in use, presence of associated diseases, APACHE II and SOFA scores, ICU and mechanical ventilation length of stay, development of pulmonary infections and survival.

Results: One hundred and forty-six patients were enrolled. Patients admitted in the service A presented a lower length of stay in mechanical ventilation (p < 0.0001), ICU stay (p = 0.0003), respiratory infections (p = 0.0043) than patients admitted in service B. No difference was found for APACHE II score (p = 0.8) and SOFA scores (p = 0.2) between groups. The mortality risk was OR 1.3 (1.01-2.33) (p = 0.04) for patients in the service B.

Conclusion: The presence of a physiotherapist in the intensive care unit contributes decisively to the early recovery of the patient, reducing mechanical ventilation support need, number of hospitalization days, incidence of respiratory infection and risk of mortality.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brazil
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods
  • Time Factors