Functional Outcomes and Physical Impairments in Pediatric Critical Care Survivors: A Scoping Review*

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Although more children are surviving critical illness, little is known about long-term physical impairment. This scoping review aims to critically appraise existing literature on functional outcome measurement tools, prevalence, and risk factors for physical impairments in pediatric critical care survivors.

Data Sources:

PubMed, Embase, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, using a combination of MeSH terms and keywords (critical illness, intensive care, and functional outcomes/status).

Study Selection:

All human studies reporting functional outcomes in children 0–18 years old admitted to the PICU. Non-English language, adult and preterm infant studies were excluded.

Data Synthesis:

Three global assessment tools and eight multidimensional measures were used to measure functional outcome in pediatric survivors of critical illness. Rates of acquired functional impairment in a general pediatric intensive care cohort ranged from 10% to 36% at discharge and 10% to 13% after more than 2 years. Risk factors for acquired functional impairment include illness severity, the presence of organ dysfunction, length of ICU stay, and younger age. There is some evidence that physical impairment may be more severe and persistent than psychosocial components.


Functional impairment may be persistent in pediatric survivors of critical care. Unfortunately, studies varied largely in measurement timing and tools used. The lack of differentiation between impairment in different functional domains limited the generalizability of data. Further studies using a combination of standardized measures at various time points of the disease process can help establish more comprehensive rates of physical impairment.

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