Upper limb function of individuals hospitalized in intensive care: A 6-month cohort study

Published:October 29, 2022DOI:


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        Individuals hospitalized at intensive care unit discharge presented reduced upper limb function, physical function, muscle strength and quality of life.
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        Six months of follow-up revealed improvements in upper limb function, but they were still reduced compared with healthy individuals.
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        Early assessment of upper limb function may inform preventive approaches during the hospital stay and indicate early therapeutic interventions for functional recovery.


      Background: Impaired physical function is a common complication in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. However, specific upper limb (UL) function is still poorly studied in this population. Objective: To evaluate UL function at discharge and after a 6-month follow-up of individuals hospitalized in the ICU. Methods: This was a longitudinal prospective 6-month multicentre cohort study with forty-six individuals hospitalized in the ICU undergoing mechanical ventilation for ≥ 48 h (ICU Group) and forty-six healthy individuals matched by sex, age, and socioeconomic status (control Group). The primary outcomes were measurements of UL disability using the Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test (JTT) and the Nine Hole Peg Test (NHPT). Secondary outcomes were physical function (Barthel index), muscle strength (Medical Research Council scale and hand grip strength), and quality of life (EuroQol-5 Dimension). All measurements were assessed after ICU discharge and at a 6-month follow-up. Results: The JTT performance time in the ICU group after discharge was worse than that in the control group [121 s (86–165) vs. 54 s (49–61), median (IQR), p<0,001] and was reduced after 6 months [62 s (54–81), p<0,01]. The NHPT performance time at discharge in the ICU group was worse than that in the controls [39 s (33–59) vs. 21 s (20–23), p<0,001] and was reduced after 6 months of follow-up [24 s (21–27), p<0,01]. Physical function, muscle strength and quality of life were reduced after ICU discharge. Conclusion: Individuals hospitalized in the ICU presented with reduced UL function at discharge and at the 6-month follow-up.


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