Development and implementation of an early mobility program for mechanically ventilated pediatric patients

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Early mobility (EM) is being used in adult ICUs in an effort to treat and prevent intensive care unit acquired weakness (ICU-AW) and Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS). Data supports children suffer from ICU-AW and PICS as well. Our objective was to create and implement an EM protocol for pediatric patients receiving invasive mechanical ventilation.


A multidisciplinary EM committee was formed to create and implement an EM protocol in a quarternary care PICU. A quality database was used to prospectively monitor patient tolerance of EM sessions and for serious adverse events, defined as unplanned extubation, hemodynamic instability, loss of central venous line, loss of arterial line, displacement of ECMO cannula, or cardiopulmonary arrest.


Between December 2013 and October 2016, 74 patients received EM for a total of 130 unique sessions. No serious adverse events occurred. Two patients had an oxygen desaturation episode during mobility that resolved with ventilator modifications, and one patient had nasogastric tube displacement during mobility.


Early mobility is attainable in a quaternary care PICU population without serious adverse events, using a multidisciplinary approach and appropriate staff education. Further research is needed to understand the physical and neurocognitive benefits of EM in children.

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