Safety and Feasibility of a Protocolized Approach to In-Bed Cycling Exercise in the Intensive Care Unit

In-bed, supine cycle ergometry as a part of early rehabilitation in the intensive care unit (ICU) appears to be safe, feasible, and beneficial, but no standardized protocol exists. A standardized protocol may help guide use of cycle ergometry in the ICU. The authors investigated whether a standardized protocol for in-bed cycling is safe and feasible, and results in cycling for a longer duration and achieves a higher resistance.

A 35-minute in-bed cycling protocol was implemented in a single medical intensive care unit (MICU) over a 7-month quality improvement (QI) period compared to pre-existing, prospectively collected data from an 18-month pre-QI period. 106 MICU patients received 260 cycling sessions in the QI period vs. 178 MICU patients receiving 498 sessions in the pre-QI period. The protocol was used in 249 (96%) of cycling sessions. The QI group cycled for longer median (IQR) duration (35 [25 – 35] vs. 25 [18 – 30] minutes, P<0.001) and more frequently achieved a resistance level greater than gear 0 (47% vs. 17% of sessions, P<0.001). There were 4 (1.5%) transient physiologic abnormalities during the QI period, and 1 (0.2%) during the pre-QI period (P = 0.031).  Use of a protocolized approach for in-bed cycling appears safe and feasible, and results in cycling for longer duration and achieved higher resistance.

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