Personalising ICU rehabilitation strategy

Developing a way to measure if people are engaged in their rehabilitation in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

Royal Perth Bentley Group


Coordinating Principal Investigator: Ms Sheldon Walker

Co-Investigators: Dr Meg Harrold, Professor Kylie Hill, A/Professor Sunita Mathur, Ms Carol Watson

This research project focuses on finding methods to personalise rehabilitation strategies for patients who have prolonged stays in intensive care units (ICUs). ICUs are specialised units that provide life-saving care to critically ill or injured patients.  

Advances in critical care medicine have meant that survival rates for patients admitted to an ICU have drastically improved in the past decade. Improved survival rates coupled with an ageing population have resulted in unprecedented demand for, and longer admissions in, the ICU. Long ICU stays have long-term consequences for patients, with survivors often grappling with PTSD, depression, cognitive dysfunction, and physical decline. These challenges can lead to increased healthcare utilisation, caregiver burden, and diminished wellbeing for survivors and their families. Given these burdens, understanding how to improve patients' physical function on hospital discharge is crucial.  

Patients who have a prolonged stay in the ICU are more likely to experience profound long-term consequences including physical and cognitive impairments, psychological disorders, diminished quality of life, and reduced participation rates in daily activities. This is further complicated as, in the ICU, patients are often faced with impaired communication due to sedative medications and invasive breathing support. 

This research project aims to explore individual preferences for rehabilitation strategies in ICU patients and develop a measure of cognitive engagement based on physiological indicators. This will help clinicians personalise rehabilitation approaches, thereby improving outcomes and quality of survivorship.  

By determining methods to measure an individual's engagement, clinicians can customise the care delivered and enhance outcomes through more effective and personalised healthcare interventions. This will help improve the quality of care for ICU patients and optimise their long-term recovery. The project will also help clinicians communicate with patients and determine when to implement rehabilitation strategies.  

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