Early identification of patients at risk of long-term critical illness-associated physical disability: is it possible?
Critical Care, November 2014
Evelyn J Corner, Stephen J Brett
ICU-acquired weakness can hinder and determine the course of recovery from critical illness, leading to life-changing disability. Risk factors include multiorgan failure and prolonged bed rest; however, no prognostic model or screening tool for new-onset disability has been established to date. With no way of targeting the at-risk population, it is difficult to demonstrate the benefit of rehabilitation interventions in research and prioritize resources clinically. In a recent issue of Critical Care, Schandl and colleagues aimed to establish a predictive screening tool for new-onset disability using 23 possible predictors. They found that using the following risk factors - low educational level, fractures, reduced core stability and length of ICU stay over 2 days - they were able to develop a risk score predictive of disability at 2 months after hospital discharge. These investigators propose that this will help to identify patients requiring follow-up and may increase the power to detect change in interventional studies. Whilst this is promising work, further validation is essential: firstly, to make it a clinically workable tool in terms of appropriate 'cut offs'; secondly, to ensure that it is transferable in different socio-economic environments; and finally, to make sure that those identified as 'at risk' are those that would benefit the most from targeted intervention.
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