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HomeHealth articlesrehabilitation strategies for post icuWhat Are the Rehabilitation Strategies for Post ICU?

Rehabilitation Strategies for Post ICU

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Rehabilitation strategies for post-ICU patients are considered to be a crucial part of the recovery process for patients. Read the article below.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ankush Dhaniram Gupta

Published At August 23, 2023
Reviewed AtNovember 24, 2023


Rehabilitation strategies for post-ICU (intensive care unit) patients are very important to regain cognitive and physical function and improve overall well-being and lead a normal life. Early mobilization, pulmonary rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, psychological support, nutritional support, multidisciplinary approach, gradual reintegration, and long-term follow-up are some of the rehabilitation strategies that are commonly used in post-ICU patients.

What Is the Role of Early Mobilization in the Rehabilitation Process for Post ICU Patients?

Early mobilization is very important for the rehabilitation process in post-ICU patients, which helps improve the patient's outcome. It helps in initiating physical activities and movement as early as possible during the recovery period. It can be done even if the patient is admitted to the ICU or immediately after the transfer of the patient to the regular ward. Early mobilization helps prevent muscle weakness due to immobility or prolonged bed rest in the ICU. This helps in treating ICU-acquired weakness. It helps improve muscular activity, thereby preventing further muscular weakness or muscle loss.

It helps in increasing respiratory function by improving the lung capacity and the strength of the respiratory muscle. It helps in decreasing the risk and complications related to the respiratory tract and improves oxygenation. It helps in improving cardiovascular function by improving cardiac output, blood flow, and heart rate. Mobilization helps in preventing deep vein thrombosis. Early mobilization helps in restoring flexibility and joint mobility. Patients who are bedridden for a longer period can have depression, stress, anxiety, and loss of control. Early mobilization helps in giving independence and improving overall well-being, thereby having a positive impact on mental health. Early mobilization helps in improving the neurological outcome.

What Is the Role of Physical Therapy in the Rehabilitation Process for Post ICU Patients?

Physical therapy in the rehabilitation process for post-ICU patients helps in improving mobility, strength, physical function, and overall quality of life. The physical therapist will monitor and evaluate each patient to assess the functional limitations and specific needs and goals. Physical therapy helps in improving endurance, physical fitness, and muscular strength. It includes therapeutic exercise, progressive functional activities, and resistance training to rebuild muscle mass, which helps in improving physical capacity.

Physical therapy helps in giving balance and coordination, thereby reducing the risk of falls. Physical therapy helps in teaching proper walking techniques and helps in improving balance and posture with the help of assistive devices if needed. It helps in improving flexibility through various manual therapy and stretching exercises. Physical therapy can help in reducing pain with the help of therapeutic exercises and various other modalities like cold or heat therapy. It also helps in teaching the patients to use assistive devices like walkers, wheelchairs, canes, or crutches.

What Is the Role of Occupational Therapy in the Rehabilitation Process for Post ICU Patients?

Occupational therapy in the rehabilitation process for post-ICU patients helps in regaining the independence to perform day-to-day activities and to improve their overall quality of life. It addresses the cognitive, physical, and emotional challenges of the patients admitted to the ICU. Occupational therapy helps in performing daily activities like bathing, feeding, dressing, and toileting. It helps in improving memory, attention, and cognitive functions through various mental stimulation activities and memory exercises. It helps in teaching the patients to save energy effectively. Occupational therapy helps in improving coordination, strength, and fine motor skills. It helps modify or adapt the environment to improve the safety and independence of the patients, like installing grab bars, adjusting the furniture, or recommending assistive devices.

What Is the Role of Speech and Swallowing Therapy in the Rehabilitation Process for Post ICU Patients?

Speech and swallowing therapy in the rehabilitation process for post-ICU patients help those having swallowing and communication difficulties. The speech-language pathologist will evaluate the language, swallowing ability, speech, and cognitive function of the patient. Patients admitted to the ICU can face communication difficulties like weakness of the muscles involved in speech production, vocal cord damage, and hoarseness in the voice. It helps in improving speech clarity, voice quality, and overall communication skill through various breathing exercises and vocal exercises.

What Is the Role of Respiratory Therapy in the Rehabilitation Process for Post ICU Patients?

Respiratory therapy in the rehabilitation process for post-ICU patients helps in restoring optimal lung function and improves respiratory health. The respiratory therapist will evaluate the muscle strength, overall respiratory function, and lung capacity of the patient. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs include breathing techniques and exercise to improve lung function and overall lung health. There are different breathing exercises, like diaphragmatic breathing and deep breathing, which help strengthen the respiratory muscles, improve the lung capacity, and help in giving an effective breathing pattern.

What Is the Role of Psychological Support in the Rehabilitation Process for Post ICU Patients?

Psychological support in the rehabilitation process for post-ICU patients helps in improving the overall quality of life. A psychologist or mental health specialist will assess the emotional state and psychological needs of the patient. It helps in identifying symptoms like depression, stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or various other psychological difficulties that are received from the ICU. There will be one on one counseling or individual counseling to help the patient to address the emotional challenges and to cope with the ICU experience. It helps in managing stress and anxiety. Group therapy also helps patients to connect with other people who have similar experiences.

What Is the Role of Nutritional Support in the Rehabilitation Process for Post ICU Patients?

Nutritional support in the rehabilitation process for post-ICU patients helps in giving adequate nutrition, which helps in improving recovery and promoting healing. The body weight, nutrient deficiency, and nutritional status will be evaluated. Based on the need of the patient, individualized meal plans will be made to meet the patient's energy requirements.


In conclusion, rehabilitation strategies for post-ICU patients play an important role in helping the patients to recover from various conditions, improve cognitive and physical function, and to improve quality of life. By employing various rehabilitation strategies post-ICU, patients can return to normal life easily. The outcome of various medical conditions can be improved, which helps in easy recovery and improves the quality of life in patients who are admitted to the critical care unit.

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Dr. Ankush Dhaniram Gupta
Dr. Ankush Dhaniram Gupta



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