Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients Admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

Joan Daniel Marti, David McWilliams, Elena Gimeno-Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung condition that affects a person's ability to exercise and undertake normal physical function due to breathlessness, poor physical fitness, and muscle fatigue. Patients with COPD often experience exacerbations due to pulmonary infections, which result in worsening of their symptoms, more loss of function, and often require hospital treatment or in severe cases admission to intensive care units. Recovery from such exacerbations is often slow, and some patients never fully return to their previous level of activity. This can lead to permanent disability and premature death.Physical therapists play a key role in the respiratory management and rehabilitation of patients admitted to intensive care following acute exacerbation of COPD. This article discusses the key considerations for respiratory management of patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation, providing an evidence-based summary of commonly used interventions. It will also explore the evidence to support the introduction of early and structured programs of rehabilitation to support recovery in both the short and the long term, as well as active mobilization, which includes strategies to minimize or prevent physical loss through early retraining of both peripheral and respiratory muscles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)886-898
Number of pages13
JournalSeminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COPD
  • early mobilization
  • intensive care unit
  • mechanical ventilation
  • muscle training
  • respiratory physical therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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