Breaking it Down: Post Intensive Care Syndrome and Recovery - The Body
Following critical illness, it is not uncommon for one to experience new or worsened physical limitations or difficulties. This can be due to the critical illness/injury itself, prolonged time spent in bed with limited physical activity, or preexisting physical challenges that worsen following hospitalization. Of all of the aspects of Post Intensive Care Syndrome (body, mind, and emotions), the physical changes are the most easily recognized and are therefore more readily addressed.
Physical and occupational therapists work with patients to maintain and regain physical abilities. This therapy may take place in the inpatient as well as the outpatient setting. Physical activity is one the most important keys to recovery for the critically ill/injured patient. It is increasingly common now for patients to begin working with therapy while still hospitalized - even starting in the intensive care unit!
Patients who work with therapy during their hospitalization will often be discharged with exercises to continue to work on at home and/or will have post discharge follow up appointments with therapy to continue to work on strengthening during recovery. However there may be times when therapy was not started following critical illness or perhaps was not continued following discharge from the hospital. Therefore it is important to know some of the following signs to watch for that can indicate that therapy may be needed:
- weakness (such as difficulty getting up from a toilet, out of a chair, a car, climbing stairs)
- instability, falling
- great sense of tiredness or fatigue
- inability to resume previous leisure activities
- inability to return to work
If you recognize any of the above signs in yourself or a loved one following critical illness, you are encouraged to contact your health care provider to discuss the potential benefit of physical and/or occupational therapy.