Respiratory Support Adjustments and Monitoring of Mechanically Ventilated Patients Performing Early Mobilization: A Scoping Review

Crit Care Explor. 2021 Apr 26;3(4):e0407. doi: 10.1097/CCE.0000000000000407. eCollection 2021 Apr.


This scoping review is aimed to summarize current knowledge on respiratory support adjustments and monitoring of metabolic and respiratory variables in mechanically ventilated adult patients performing early mobilization.

Data sources: Eight electronic databases were searched from inception to February 2021, using a predefined search strategy.

Study selection: Two blinded reviewers performed document selection by title, abstract, and full text according to the following criteria: mechanically ventilated adult patients performing any mobilization intervention, respiratory support adjustments, and/or monitoring of metabolic/respiratory real-time variables.

Data extraction: Four physiotherapists extracted relevant information using a prespecified template.

Data synthesis: From 1,208 references screened, 35 documents were selected for analysis, where 20 (57%) were published between 2016 and 2020. Respiratory support settings (ventilatory modes or respiratory variables) were reported in 21 documents (60%). Reported modes were assisted (n = 11) and assist-control (n = 9). Adjustment of variables and modes were identified in only seven documents (20%). The most frequent respiratory variable was the Fio2, and only four studies modified the level of ventilatory support. Mechanical ventilator brand/model used was not specified in 26 documents (74%). Monitoring of respiratory, metabolic, and both variables were reported in 22 documents (63%), four documents (11%) and 10 documents (29%), respectively. These variables were reported to assess the physiologic response (n = 21) or safety (n = 13). Monitored variables were mostly respiratory rate (n = 26), pulse oximetry (n = 22), and oxygen consumption (n = 9). Remarkably, no study assessed the work of breathing or effort during mobilization.

Conclusions: Little information on respiratory support adjustments during mobilization of mechanically ventilated patients was identified. Monitoring of metabolic and respiratory variables is also scant. More studies on the effects of adjustments of the level/mode of ventilatory support on exercise performance and respiratory muscle activity monitoring for safe and efficient implementation of early mobilization in mechanically ventilated patients are needed.

Keywords: early mobilization; intensive care; mechanical ventilation; patient monitoring; rehabilitation; respiratory therapy.

Publication types

  • Review