Longitudinal Assessment of Mobility and Self-care Among Critically Ill Older Adults. An Age-Friendly Health Systems Initiative Quality Improvement Study.

Carleigh M. Rittel, Bryan A. Borg, Anelis V. Hanessian, Angela Kuhar, Mindy J. Fain, Christian Bime

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Early mobility in the intensive care unit (ICU) is vital to maintaining an older adult patient's performance of activities of daily living, functional mobility, and overall quality of life. Prior studies have shown reduced length of inpatient stay and onset of delirium in patients with early mobilization. Despite these benefits, many ICU patients are often labeled as too sick to participate in therapy and frequently do not receive physical (PT) or occupational therapy (OT) consults until they are considered floor status. This delay in therapy can negatively affect a patient's capacity to participate in his/her self-care, add to the burden on caregivers, and limit disposition options. Objectives Our goals were to perform a longitudinal assessment of mobility and self-care among older patients through their medical ICU (MICU) stays and to quantify visits by therapy services to identify areas for improvement in achieving early intervention in this at-risk population. Method This was a retrospective quality improvement analysis of a cohort of admissions to the MICU at a large tertiary academic medical center between November 2018 and May 2019. Admission information, PT and OT consult information, Perme Intensive Care Unit Mobility Score, and Modified Barthel Index scores were entered into a quality improvement registry. Inclusion criteria consisted of age older than 65 years and at least 2 distinct visits by PT and/or OT for evaluation. Patients without consults and patients with weekend-only MICU stays were not assessed. Results There were 302 MICU patients 65 years or older admitted during the study period. Forty-four percent (132) of these patients received PT/OT consults, and among these, 32% (42) had at least 2 visits to allow comparison of objective scores. Seventy-five percent of patients had improved Perme scores (median, 9.4%; interquartile range, 2.3%-15.6%), and 58% of patients had improved Modified Barthel Index scores (median, 3%; interquartile range, -2% to 13.5%). However, 17% of potential therapy days were missed because of inadequate staffing/time, and 14% were missed because of being sedated or unable to participate. Conclusions In our cohort of patients older than 65 years, receipt of therapy in the MICU led to modest improvements in score-assessed mobility and self-care before transfer to floor. Staffing, time constraints, and patient sedation or encephalopathy appeared to interfere most with further potential benefits. In the next phase, we plan to implement strategies to increase PT/OT availability in the MICU and implement a protocol to increase identification and referral of candidates for whom early therapy can prevent loss of mobility and ability to perform self-care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-239
Number of pages6
JournalDimensions of Critical Care Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • Age-friendly
  • Medical intensive care unit
  • Mobility
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency
  • Critical Care


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