Effect of neuromuscular stimulation and individualized rehabilitation on muscle strength in Intensive Care Unit survivors: A randomized trial

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Intensive Care Unit (ICU) survivors experience muscle weakness leading to restrictions in functional ability. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been an alternative to exercise in critically ill patients. The aim of our study was to investigate its effects along with individualized rehabilitation on muscle strength of ICU survivors.

Material and methods

Following ICU discharge, 128 patients (age: 53 ± 16 years) were randomly assigned to daily NMES sessions and individualized rehabilitation (NMES group) or to control group. Muscle strength was assessed by the Medical Research Council (MRC) score and hand grip at hospital discharge. Secondary outcomes were functional ability and hospital length of stay.


MRC, handgrip, functional status and hospital length of stay did not differ at hospital discharge between groups (p > 0.05). ΔMRC% one and two weeks after ICU discharge tended to be higher in NMES group, while it was significant higher in NMES group of patients with ICU-acquired weakness at two weeks (p = 0.05).


NMES and personalized physiotherapy in ICU survivors did not result in greater improvement of muscle strength and functional status at hospital discharge. However, in patients with ICU-aw NMES may be effective. The potential benefits of rehabilitation strategies should be explored in larger number of patients in future studies.


Clinical trial registration: www.Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01717833

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