Patients with severe acquired brain injury show increased arousal in tilt-table training

Dan Med J. 2013 Dec;60(12):A4739.


Introduction: Patients with severe acquired brain injury (ABI) are often mobilised using a tilt-table. Complications such as orthostatic intolerance have been reported. The primary objective of this study was to investigate if using a tilt-table was feasible for mobilising patients with severe ABI admitted for sub-acute rehabilitation. We also investigated change in arousal, treatment duration before termination due to orthostatic reactions and change in muscle tone.

Material and methods: A total of 16 patients with severe ABI were included. The patients were tilted head-up, and blood pressure, heart rate, breathing frequency and eye opening were recorded before and during the intervention. Furthermore, muscle tone was recorded before and after the intervention.

Results: Fifteen of the 16 patients did not complete the 20-min. session of tilt training due to orthostatic intolerance. There was a significant increase in the proportion of time that the patients had open eyes during treatment as compared with before treatment (p < 0.01). The mean time to occurrence of symptoms at the first, second and third tilt was 244 (standard deviation (SD) = ± 234) sec., 277 (SD = ± 257) sec. and 155 (SD = ± 67) sec., respectively.

Conclusion: Patients with severe sub-acute ABI show orthostatic intolerance when mobilised on a tilt-table which results in a low mobilisation intensity. However, the patients showed a significant increase in arousal during mobilisation.

Funding: No external funding was received for this study. All resources were provided by the Department of Neurorehabilitation, Traumatic Brain Injury Unit, Glostrup University Hospital.

Trial registration: not relevant.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arousal*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / etiology
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Tonus
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena
  • Posture
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult