Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of an Early Mobility Protocol in a Regional Level II Trauma Center

Crit Care Nurs Q. 2022 Jan-Mar;45(1):83-87. doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0000000000000391.


The purpose of this project was to develop and evaluate a collaborative nursing/therapist protocol for early mobility in a medical-surgical intensive care unit (MICU) in a regional level II trauma center. Data for patients in the MICU were compared for the periods August 3, 2015-August 2, 2016, and August 3, 2014-August 2, 2015. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 nurses and 1 therapist. Average MICU length of stay decreased from 3.81 to 3.50 days (P = .057). Mean time in mobility chairs did not change (0.12 days vs 0.11 days, P = .389). Mean number of days to first documented level 2-5 activity decreased significantly, from 1.81 to 1.51 days (P = .036). The percentage of hospitalizations with any documented level 3 or 4 activity increased significantly (from 3.8% to 7.4% and from 61.5% to 66.7%, P = .003 and P = .031, respectively). Barriers/challenges to implementation included having enough people to assist, space, documentation, having to coax the physician to place order for upright mobility, availability of therapists for later stages of protocol, patient variability, fear of patient falls, availability of therapy chairs, staff changes, time, and patient refusal. A multidisciplinary approach to protocol development for early mobility in an intensive care unit was successfully implemented at a regional level II trauma center.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Length of Stay
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Trauma Centers*