Range of Motion Bicycles Help ICU Patients Recover

By: Rick Pietzak

UPMC Presbyterian’s Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) has added an unusual technique for taking care of sedated and seriously ill patients: a passive, range-of-motion bicycle that improves patient mobility.
The practice is commonly used for physical therapy and rehabilitation but has been brought to the ICU thanks to a grant from the Beckwith Institute. The MICU last August purchased two passive, range-of-motion bicycles that have helped patients maintain function and mobility in the ICU.“Even after the first few days in the intensive care unit, the muscles can decondition.  The bicycle can help maintain some muscle tone and help  patients get back up and moving, hopefully leading to a shorter stay in the ICU,” said Sue Svec, R.N., a clinician who helped start the mobility program.

Svec and her colleagues collected data between May and September2012 to evaluate whether the equipment was appropriate for their patients. They were able to implement a passive, range-of-motion bicycle program on mechanically ventilated patients in the ICU.  Traditionally, this type of therapy would not begin for about five days. Many patients were able to use the bike within 24 hours, while they were still sedated.

UPMC Presbyterian’s MICU is still using the bikes to help patients, with the goal of moving them  toward the next step in their care and recovery.