A perspective on early mobilization for adult patients with respiratory failure: Lessons for the pediatric population

Michele Munkwitz, Ramona O. Hopkins, Russell R. Miller, Peter M. Luckett, Eliotte L. Hirshberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To summarize the evidence for early mobilization programs in critically ill pediatric and adult patients with respiratory failure. This paper describes our review of the literature and outlines the morbidities associated with immobility, mechanical ventilation and sedation.The clinical management of acutely ill pediatric patients with respiratory failure traditionally consists of mechanical ventilation, sedation and prolonged immobilization. Although the most severely ill patients require these therapies for survival, each therapy comes with adverse consequences. Early mobilization may reduce complications and confer benefit for children with respiratory failure or those who require prolonged mechanical ventilator support. Design: Systematic review of the literature pertaining to early mobilization in pediatric and adult patients with respiratory failure. We searched Medline, PubMed, CINAHL and Cochrane database of controlled trials. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), observational cohort studies, case control studies and population-based analysis were considered for inclusion. Two reviewers (MM and EH) independently selected pertinent studies. Results: No studies of early mobilization in pediatric populations were found. Five adult studies were identified for review; two randomized controlled trials and three observational studies. All studies suggested an improvement in morbidity and economic benefit with implementation of early mobilization. Conclusions: Early mobilization in critically ill adult patients with respiratory failure is associated with a decrease in duration of sedatives, ventilator dependant days, ICU and hospital length of stay. The paucity of studies of early mobilization suggest that implementation of early mobilization is not widely practiced. Studies of early mobilization therapy in the adult patient requiring prolonged mechanical ventilator support are reviewed, and the physiologic rational and observed obstacles to integration of an early mobilization program are discussed. The adult data and scientific evidence are combined to support an opinion about the possible benefits of early mobilization programs. The generalizability of the findings and the feasibility of implementing early mobilization in critically ill children who require prolonged mechanical ventilator support are also considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-227
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Mechanical ventilation
  • critical illness neuromuscular injury
  • immobility
  • inflammation
  • mobility
  • pediatrics\vspace{-1.2cm}
  • sedation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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