ICU physical therapy can cut hospital stay

Oct. 24, 2007 at 6:45 PM
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Early physical therapy for patients with respiratory-failure reduced their time in the hospital by three days, a U.S. study said.

Nursing assistants provided passive range of motion therapy in the intensive care unit by flexed the joints of the patients’ upper and lower limbs three times a day, seven days a week within 48 hours of the insertion of a breathing tube.

Dr. Peter Morris of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said mobility and the resulting loss of physical conditioning are common problems for patients with respiratory failure.

As the patients, who cannot breathe without the assistance of a ventilator recovered, they received more advanced physical therapy from a physical therapist.

The therapy proved safe, and there was also no addition to hospital costs because the salaries of the employees who provided mobility therapy were offset by reduced lengths of stay in the hospital, Morris said.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Chicago.

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