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Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2016 Feb;52(1):90-100. Epub 2015 Nov 4.

Early rehabilitation for severe acquired brain injury in intensive care unit: multicenter observational study.

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Neurorehabilitation Unit IRCCS INM Neuromed, Pozzilli (IS), Italy -



The increased survival after a severe acquired brain injury (sABI) raise the problem of making most effective the treatments in Intensive Care Unit (ICU)/Neurointensive Care Unit (NICU), also integrating rehabilitation care. Despite previous studies reported that early mobilization in ICU was effective in preventing complications and reducing hospital stay, few studies addressed the rehabilitative management of sABI patients in ICU/NICU.


To collect clinical and functional data about the early rehabilitative management of sABI patients during ICU/NICU stay.


Prospective, observational, multicenter study.


Fourteen facilities supplied by intensive neurorehabilitation units and ICU/NICUs.


Consecutive sABI patients admitted to ICU/NICU.


Patients were evaluated at admission and then every 3-5 days. Clinical, functional and rehabilitative data, including Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), Disability Rating Scale (DRS), The Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning Scale (LCF), Early Rehabilitation Barthel Index (ERBI), Glasgow Outcome scale (GOS) and Functional Independence Measure (FIM) were collected.


One hundred and two patients (F/M 44/58) were enrolled. The mean duration of ICU stay was 24.7±13.9 days and the first rehabilitative evaluation occurred after 8.7±8.8 days. Regular postural changes and multijoint mobilization were prescribed in 63.7% and 64.7% cases, respectively. The mean session duration was 38±11.5 minutes. Swallowing evaluation was performed in 14.7% patients, psychological support was provided to 12.7% of patients' caregivers, while 17.6% received a psycho-educational intervention, and 28.4% were involved in interdisciplinary team meetings. The main discharge destinations were Severe Acquired Brain Injury rehabilitation units for 43.7%, intensive neurorehabilitation units for 20.7%.


Data showed that early rehabilitation was not diffusely performed in sABI subjects in ICU/NICU and rehabilitative interventions were variable; one-third of subjects were not referred to dedicated rehabilitation unit at discharge.


The study stresses the need to spread and implement a rehabilitative culture also for critical ill patients due to neurological diseases.

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