Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

Muscle weakness, memory problems, depression, insomnia, physical pain, nightmares. These are just a few examples of the problems that patients may experience following critical illness. Symptoms such as these which affect emotional, physical, and cognitive health are now being recognized as Post Intensive Care Syndrome, or PICS. Efforts to educate health care providers, patients, and families about Post Intensive Care Syndrome are underway. Explore our site to learn more about PICS.

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Mon, Aug 20, 2018 3:40pm

Breaking it Down: Post Intensive Care Syndrome and Recovery - The Mind

By Annie, Mayo ICU Nurse Practitioner, @andreab

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Short term memory loss. Word finding difficulty. Trouble concentrating. Difficulty with work or school. These are some of the symptoms that patients with Post Intensive Care Syndrome describe having following critical illness/injury. These symptoms can vary on the spectrum of severity, but for those who suffer from the cognitive effects of PICS even subtle difficulties can be life-changing. Loss of work, poor academic performance, and disrupted personal lives are unfortunately a reality for many people affected by PICS.

Thankfully there are ways to treat issues that affect the mind. Below are some examples of things that you can do to lessen the impact of these difficulties:

  • Develop and follow a daily schedule
  • Seek cognitive stimulation through activities such as reading and playing board games
  • Avoid overstimulation and focus on quality sleep patterns
  • Simplify tasks and avoid distractions

Working with an occupational therapist is also highly suggested for anyone who believes they or a loved one may be experiencing PICS. An occupational therapist is a healthcare provider who helps individuals relearn life skills, such as activities of daily living (for example, grooming, dressing, balancing a checkbook, etc.) or complete tasks that are meaningful to them while maintaining independence.

If you are experiencing symptoms of PICS, contact your healthcare provider and share this information. Connecting with specialized professionals is often the first step towards successful recovery.

Come back next month when we discuss Recovery: Emotions as it relates to Post Intensive Care Syndrome.

In the meantime, join our conversation online. Have you or a loved one experienced critical illness/injury? You're not alone. Share your story and connect with others who have been on the same journey:

Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's Talk

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