Following a period of critical illness, physical function and health-related quality of life are slow to recover, both in the short and long term. Muscle wasting and weakness during the intensive care unit (ICU) admission is a recognised contributory factor. Enhanced rehabilitation programmes are advocated to improve outcomes, and electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) has been recommended during the early critical illness trajectory. This technique is fairly new to the ICU, and limited efficacy data exists for its use in this setting. This integrative review will examine published and on-going ICU studies with the purpose of reporting on the characteristics of EMS study participants; content of EMS treatment protocols; safety of EMS in the ICU setting; effects on EMS on muscle wasting; effects of EMS on muscle strength; and future research.
- electrical stimulation therapy
- muscle weakness
- critical illness
- muscular atrophy