Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) is a life-saving intervention for patients with severe cardiac or respiratory failure. While ECMO provides vital support to these critically ill individuals, its implementation often involves extended stays in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). During this time, maintaining and improving the patient’s mobility may not only be possible but is also highly beneficial. In this article, we will delve into the numerous advantages of promoting mobility in ECMO patients.
One of the primary benefits of mobility for ECMO patients is the potential to improve respiratory function. As patients recover from the underlying cardiac or respiratory issues that led to ECMO initiation, engaging in controlled movement can help strengthen respiratory muscles, clear secretions, and enhance lung function. By reducing the risk of atelectasis and pneumonia, mobility aids in the weaning process, allowing the patient to transition away from ECMO support more efficiently.
ECMO patients often experience reduced cardiac output and peripheral perfusion. Mobilizing these patients can increase venous return, improve cardiac function, and enhance blood circulation. Enhanced circulation helps stabilize vital signs and supports the heart in its recovery process.
Immobilized patients are at increased risk of complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pressure ulcers, and muscle atrophy. Regular mobility and repositioning help reduce these risks. For ECMO patients, preventing these complications is vital to ensure a smoother recovery and minimize the need for additional interventions.
Early mobilization in ECMO patients has been associated with shorter ICU stays. By facilitating faster recovery, decreasing the risk of complications, and aiding in weaning from ECMO, mobility contributes to a more efficient use of ICU resources and helps patients transition to step-down units or general wards sooner.
The ICU can be a disorienting and distressing environment for patients, particularly those on ECMO support. Mobilizing patients may provide a sense of normalcy and control, which can reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being. The patient’s active involvement in their recovery can boost their confidence and motivation.
Long periods of immobility can lead to muscle weakness, which can be particularly debilitating for ECMO patients. Early and progressive mobility can help maintain and strengthen muscle mass, facilitating the transition to daily activities and improving quality of life post-ECMO.
For ECMO patients, post-discharge quality of life is a significant concern. By promoting mobility and helping patients regain independence during their ICU stay, healthcare providers can set the stage for a smoother transition to home life and a quicker return to regular activities.
The benefits of mobility for ECMO patients are undeniable. Early mobilization not only supports the patient’s physical recovery but also contributes to their psychological well-being, reduces complications, and shortens the length of their ICU stay. As ECMO continues to be a crucial life-saving intervention, healthcare professionals should prioritize and advocate for mobility as an integral part of the patient’s care plan. By doing so, we can improve outcomes for ECMO patients and provide them with the best possible chance of recovery and an improved quality of life after their challenging medical journey. Learn how Kreg can help you mobilize these patients in bed and how our customers are seeing the benefits of vertical mobilization here