Current Physical Therapy Practice in the Intensive Care Unit in Saudi Arabia: A Multicentre Cross-Sectional Survey

Crit Care Res Pract. 2020 Dec 29:2020:6610027. doi: 10.1155/2020/6610027. eCollection 2020.


Background: Early mobilisation of patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) is associated with positive health benefits. Research literature lacks insight into the current status of ICU physical therapy (PT) practice in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Aim: To determine the current standard of ICU PT practice, attitude, and barriers.

Methods: A questionnaire was e-mailed to physiotherapists (PTs) working in the hospital. The questions pertained to experience, qualification, barriers, and most frequently encountered case scenarios in the ICU.

Results: The response rate was 28.1% (124/442). Frequent cases referred to the PTs were traumatic paraplegia (n = 111, 89%) and stroke (n = 102, 82.3%) as compared to congestive heart failure (n = 20, 16.1%) and pulmonary infections (n = 7, 5.6%). The preferred treatment of choice among PTs was chest physiotherapy (n = 102, 82.2%) and positioning (n = 73, 58.8%), whereas functional electrical stimulation (n = 12, 9.6%) was least preferred irrespective of the condition. Perceived barriers in the ICU PT management were of low confidence in managing cases (n = 89, 71.7%) followed by inadequate training (n = 53, 42.7%), and the least quoted barrier was a communication gap between the critical care team members (n = 8, 6.4%).

Conclusion: PTs reported significant variation in the choice of treatment for different clinical cases inside ICU. The main barriers in the ICU setting were low confidence and inadequate training.