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ICU patients get better faster with early rehab

TTSH finds patients who start on physiotherapy leave ICU earlier

Published on Jul 28, 2014 8:01 AM
 
Madam Santokh Kaur going through some gentle exercises with the help of physiotherapist Roxanne Foo at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

You would think that the last thing patients in intensive care need is exercise.

And while this is true in some cases, a team from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) has found that starting suitable patients on simple exercises can help them get out of the intensive care unit (ICU) earlier.

The average length of stay for such patients at its surgical intensive care unit (SICU) fell from three days to two after staff started them on physiotherapy as soon as possible. Patients also had higher potential for rehabilitation to regain mobility.

"The traditional impression of ICU patients is of them lying in bed to recuperate," said TTSH principal physiotherapist Jayachandran Balachandran. "But for each day he lies in bed, he loses 2 per cent of his muscles."

 
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Background story

STAYING MOBILE

The traditional impression of ICU patients is of them lying in bed to recuperate. But for each day he lies in bed, he loses 2 per cent of his muscles. Patients in ICU may be frail but helping them to move early ensures that they do not waste away in bed.

- TTSH principal physiotherapist Jayachandran Balachandran.

LET'S GET GOING

I like exercise, at least I am not drowsy and sleeping all the time.

I can't wait to go home and cook dahl and roti.

- Madam Santokh Kaur, an ICU patient at TTSH

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