Recognizing and Preventing ICU-Acquired Weakness

April 30, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Healthcare organizations need to recognize that critical-illness survivors, which have increased in number over the past 20 years, may experience muscle weakness after being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and that the recovery from this weakness is "often slow and incomplete," states an article in the April 24, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine. ICU-acquired weakness may include critical illness polyneuropathy or myopathy, which have similar symptoms; however, critical illness myopathy is more frequent and is associated with a higher recovery rate when compared with polyneuropathy. Diagnosis of ICU-acquired weakness may be difficult, as some of the tests (e.g., electromyography) require the patient to be awake and able to contract their muscles.

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