Quantification of the negative impact of sedation and inotropic support on achieving early mobility in burn patients in ICU: A single center observational study

Burns. 2021 Dec;47(8):1756-1765. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2021.09.015. Epub 2021 Sep 24.


Introduction: Early rehabilitation for burns survivors in the intensive care unit (ICU) is arguably more challenging than the general population. Early achievement of functional verticality milestones (FVMs) has the potential to ameliorate the detrimental effects of bed rest and immobility observed in ICU patients and reduce healthcare costs. However, the time to achieving FVMs after burn injury is influenced by factors such as sedation practices, cardiovascular stability, mechanical ventilation, acute skin reconstruction and length of stay (LOS) during the acute intensive care period.

Objectives/aims: The aims of this study were to identify the association between early achievement of FVMs and factors influencing cessation of bedrest in adult patients with burns receiving ICU care, and to explore barriers to achievement of FVMs as recorded by clinicians.

Methods: A 5-year retrospective observational cohort study was conducted. The digital medical records were reviewed for each case to explore episodes of FVMs and patient factors which may contribute to persistent bed rest, such as use of infused sedative and/or inotropic medication, mechanical ventilation, burn surgery, total body surface area (TBSA), ICU length of stay and pre-ICU practices. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between FVM achievement and treatment and injury factors in ICU survivors.

Results: The total sample available for analysis included 64 patients. When sedation/agitation score was within recommended limits, odds of achieving FVMs was 21 times greater than periods outside those limits. When deep sedatives were infused, the odds of achieving FVMs decreased by 87% compared to periods when there was no infusion of these medications. In addition, the odds of achieving FVMs was reduced by 13% for each increase of 1 mL/h in the daily maximum noradrenaline dose.

Discussion and conclusion: Maintaining sedation and agitation scores within the optimal range, and minimising sedative infusion and inotropic support enhances the likelihood of early and frequent mobilization in patients with burns admitted to ICU. Additional barriers identified were mechanical ventilation, burns surgery, pre-ICU practices and ICU length of stay. The challenge for clinicians moving forward is to determine how these factors may be modified to increase early mobilization of burn patients in ICU.

Keywords: Burns; Critical Care; Intensive Care; Physical Therapy; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns* / epidemiology
  • Critical Care
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Retrospective Studies