What is the role of the physiotherapist in paediatric intensive care units?

This study reviews the evidence to determine the role of physiotherapists in the management of mechanically ventilated patients in PICU.

Physiotherapy in intensive care units (ICU) has traditionally focussed on the respiratory management of mechanically ventilated patients. Gradually, focus has shifted to include rehabilitation in adult ICUs, though evidence of a similar shift in the paediatric ICU (PICU) is limited.

The authors conducted a search of the following resources: PEDro, CINAHL, Medline, PubMed and the Cochrane Library. The review included studies involving PICU patients who received physiotherapy while invasively ventilated. Those involving neonatal or adult ICU patients, or patients on non-invasive or long-term ventilation, were not included in the study.

The study found that chest physiotherapy (CPT) is still the focus of physiotherapy intervention in PICU for mechanically ventilated patients, and supports its use for secretion clearance in this setting.