Feasibility of Early, Motor-Assisted Cycle Ergometry in Critically Ill Neurological Patients With Upper Limb Weakness and Variable Cognitive Status: A Case Series
Upper limb paresis, common in many neurological conditions, is a major contributor of long-term disability and decreased quality of life. Evidence shows that repetitive, bilateral arm movement improves upper limb coordination after neurological injury. However, it is difficult to integrate upper limb interventions into very early rehabilitation of critically ill neurological patients because of patient arousal and medical acuity. This report describes the safety and feasibility of bilateral upper limb cycling in critically ill neurological patients with bilateral or unilateral paresis. Patients were included in this pilot observational series if they used upper limb cycle ergometry with occupational therapy while in the neurocritical care unit between May and August 2016. Patient demographics, neurological function, and hemodynamic status were recorded precycling and postcycling. Cycling parameters including duration and active and/or passive cycling were collected. No significant changes in hemodynamic or respiratory status were noted postintervention. No adverse effects or safety events were noted. In this series, upper limb cycle ergometry was a safe and feasible intervention for early rehabilitation in critically ill patients in the neurocritical care unit. Future studies will prospectively measure the impact of early upper limb cycle ergometry on neurological recovery and functional outcome in this population.