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Early occupational therapy 'beneficial for critically ill patients'

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Critically ill patients could experience better outcomes with early physical and occupational therapy, research suggests.

Sedation leaves seriously ill patients immobilised and can result in long-term complications such as intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired weakness and neuropsychiatric disease.

However, the new study, published in The Lancet, has found that interrupting sedation in the earliest days of treatment to give critically ill patients physical and occupational therapy leads to better outcomes than standard care.

More than 100 patients took part in the trial, which was carried out by researchers at the University of Chicago.

They found that those who had their sedation interrupted for regular early-stage therapy were more independently mobile by the time they were discharged from hospital than those who did not.

The study’s authors conclude: ‘A strategy for whole-body rehabilitation - consisting of interruption of sedation and physical and occupational therapy in the earliest days of critical illness - was safe and well tolerated, and resulted in better functional outcomes at hospital discharge, a shorter duration of delirium, and more ventilator-free days compared with standard care.

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