Evaluating physical functioning in critical care: considerations for clinical practice and research

This article by Parry and colleagues appeared in the October 2017 issue of Critical Care.  The full text of this article can be found via this link.

The evaluation of physical functioning is valuable in the intensive care unit (ICU) to help inform patient recovery after critical illness, to identify patients who may require rehabilitation interventions, and to monitor responsiveness to such interventions. This viewpoint article discusses: (1) the concept of physical functioning with reference to the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health; (2) the importance of measuring physical functioning in the ICU; and (3) methods for evaluating physical functioning in the ICU. Recommendations for clinical practice and research are made, along with discussion of future directions.

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Muscle mass and physical recovery in ICU

We have significantly improved hospital mortality from sepsis and critical illness in last 10 years; however, over this same period we have tripled the number of ‘ICU survivors’ going to rehabilitation |¬†Current Opinion in Critical Care

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Furthermore, as up to half the deaths in the first year following ICU admission occur post-ICU discharge, it is unclear how many of these patients ever returned home or a meaningful quality of life. For those who do survive, recent data reveals many ‘ICU survivors’ will suffer significant functional impairment or post-ICU syndrome (PICS). Thus, new innovative metabolic and exercise interventions to address PICS are urgently needed. These should focus on optimal nutrition and lean body mass (LBM) assessment, targeted nutrition delivery, anabolic/anticatabolic strategies, and utilization of personalized exercise intervention techniques, such as utilized by elite athletes to optimize preparation and recovery from critical care.

New data for novel LBM analysis technique such as computerized tomography scan and ultrasound analysis of LBM are available showing objective measures of LBM now becoming more practical for predicting metabolic reserve and effectiveness of nutrition/exercise interventions. 13C-Breath testing is a novel technique under study to predict infection earlier and predict over-feeding and under-feeding to target nutrition delivery. New technologies utilized routinely by athletes such as muscle glycogen ultrasound also show promise. Finally, the role of personalized cardiopulmonary exercise testing to target preoperative exercise optimization and post-ICU recovery are becoming reality.

Full reference: Wischmeyer, P.E. et al. (2017) Muscle mass and physical recovery in ICU: innovations for targeting of nutrition and exercise. Current Opinion in Critical Care: Published online: June 7, 2017