Physiotherapy in the intensive care unit: an evidence-based, expert driven, practical statement and rehabilitation recommendations

Clin Rehabil. 2015 Nov;29(11):1051-63. doi: 10.1177/0269215514567156. Epub 2015 Feb 13.


Objective: To develop evidence-based recommendations for effective and safe diagnostic assessment and intervention strategies for the physiotherapy treatment of patients in intensive care units.

Methods: We used the EBRO method, as recommended by the 'Dutch Evidence Based Guideline Development Platform' to develop an 'evidence statement for physiotherapy in the intensive care unit'. This method consists of the identification of clinically relevant questions, followed by a systematic literature search, and summary of the evidence with final recommendations being moderated by feedback from experts.

Results: Three relevant clinical domains were identified by experts: criteria to initiate treatment; measures to assess patients; evidence for effectiveness of treatments. In a systematic literature search, 129 relevant studies were identified and assessed for methodological quality and classified according to the level of evidence. The final evidence statement consisted of recommendations on eight absolute and four relative contra-indications to mobilization; a core set of nine specific instruments to assess impairments and activity restrictions; and six passive and four active effective interventions, with advice on (a) physiological measures to observe during treatment (with stopping criteria) and (b) what to record after the treatment.

Conclusions: These recommendations form a protocol for treating people in an intensive care unit, based on best available evidence in mid-2014.

Keywords: Intensive care; clinimetrics; exercise; guideline; physiotherapy; rehabiliation; safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / organization & administration*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Treatment Outcome