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Physiotherapy for adult patients with critical illness: recommendations of the European Respiratory Society and European Society of Intensive Care Medicine Task Force on Physiotherapy for Critically Ill Patients


The Task Force reviewed and discussed the available literature on the effectiveness of physiotherapy for acute and chronic critically ill adult patients. Evidence from randomized controlled trials or meta-analyses was limited and most of the recommendations were level C (evidence from uncontrolled or nonrandomized trials, or from observational studies) and D (expert opinion). However, the following evidence-based targets for physiotherapy were identified: deconditioning, impaired airway clearance, atelectasis, intubation avoidance, and weaning failure. Discrepancies and lack of data on the efficacy of physiotherapy in clinical trials support the need to identify guidelines for physiotherapy assessments, in particular to identify patient characteristics that enable treatments to be prescribed and modified on an individual basis. There is a need to standardize pathways for clinical decision-making and education, to define the professional profile of physiotherapists, and increase the awareness of the benefits of prevention and treatment of immobility and deconditioning for critically ill adult patients.

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Gosselink, R., Bott, J., Johnson, M. et al. Physiotherapy for adult patients with critical illness: recommendations of the European Respiratory Society and European Society of Intensive Care Medicine Task Force on Physiotherapy for Critically Ill Patients. Intensive Care Med 34, 1188–1199 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-008-1026-7

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  • Intensive Care Unit
  • Intensive Care Unit Patient
  • Continuous Passive Motion
  • Inhalation Injury
  • Inspiratory Muscle Training