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Longer ICU Stays May Worsen Quality of Life in Recovery

Longer duration of bed rest during critical illness is linked with long-term physical impairment

MONDAY, April 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Longer durations of bed rest during intensive care unit (ICU) stays for acute lung injury may cause lingering physical complications, according to research published in the April issue of Critical Care Medicine.

Eddy Fan, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto, and colleagues conducted a prospective study with longitudinal follow-up of 222 survivors of acute lung injury to assess the association between ICU exposure and physical complications.

The researchers found that more than one-third of survivors had objectively measured muscle weakness at the time of discharge; most experienced improvement within 12 months. Muscle weakness was accompanied by substantial impairments in physical function and health-related quality of life that persisted at 24 months. A consistent relationship was found between the duration of bed rest during critical illness and weakness at follow-up of up to 24 months. Neither cumulative dose of systemic corticosteroids nor use of neuromuscular blockers seemed to be associated with weakness.

"Hence, evidence-based methods to reduce bed rest (e.g., early physical and occupational therapy) during critical illness may be the most important target interventions for ameliorating the common and substantial long-term physical complications experienced by acute lung injury survivors," the authors write.

The institution of one study author received grant support from Abbott Laboratories.

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