Purpose: Functional electrical stimulation-assisted cycle ergometry (FESCE) enables in-bed leg exercise independently of patients' volition. We hypothesised that early use of FESCE-based progressive mobility programme improves physical function in survivors of critical care after 6 months.
Methods: We enrolled mechanically ventilated adults estimated to need >7 days of intensive care unit (ICU) stay into an assessor-blinded single centre randomised controlled trial to receive either FESCE-based protocolised or standard rehabilitation that continued up to day 28 or ICU discharge.
Results: We randomised in 1:1 ratio 150 patients (age 61±15 years, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II 21±7) at a median of 21 (IQR 19-43) hours after admission to ICU. Mean rehabilitation duration of rehabilitation delivered to intervention versus control group was 82 (IQR 66-97) versus 53 (IQR 50-57) min per treatment day, p<0.001. At 6 months 42 (56%) and 46 (61%) patients in interventional and control groups, respectively, were alive and available to follow-up (81.5% of prespecified sample size). Their Physical Component Summary of SF-36 (primary outcome) was not different at 6 months (50 (IQR 21-69) vs 49 (IQR 26-77); p=0.26). At ICU discharge, there were no differences in the ICU length of stay, functional performance, rectus femoris cross-sectional diameter or muscle power despite the daily nitrogen balance was being 0.6 (95% CI 0.2 to 1.0; p=0.004) gN/m2 less negative in the intervention group.
Conclusion: Early delivery of FESCE-based protocolised rehabilitation to ICU patients does not improve physical functioning at 6 months in survivors.
Trial registration number: NCT02864745.
Keywords: complementary medicine; critical care.
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