Background: Patients who are critically ill face severe muscle weakness and physical deconditioning due to prolonged immobility during their stay in the hospital, specifically in the intensive care unit (ICU). This impairment is commonly termed ICU acquired weakness (ICUAW) and subsequently leads to disability and prolonged rehabilitation after discharge from the ICU. Recent studies have found early physical therapy intervention for patients can be beneficial in attenuating decrease in function frequently associated with ICU admission.

Purpose: To investigate a physical therapy intervention that could potentially address this patient’s impairments by analyzing evidence based literature regarding the following PICO question: In patients who are critically ill and receiving mechanical ventilation, is passive lower extremity cycling more effective at attenuating ICUAW as compared to standard passive range of motion?

Discussion: The purpose of this evidence-based literature analysis was to investigate whether patients who are critically ill can benefit from passive cycle ergometry to maintain muscle integrity and range of motion necessary for higher functional mobility skills once medically stable. Recent studies have looked at the potential benefits of early mobility for patients who are critically ill. Within the realm of early mobility, several studies investigated the feasibility of passive lower extremity cycle ergometry as an intervention for patients who are unable to participate in active mobility activities. Few adverse events have been associated with this intervention demonstrating its safety, however, results regarding the efficacy of lower extremity cycle ergometry in attenuating ICUAW are few and inconclusive, necessitating further investigation.



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Level of Degree


First Advisor

Tiffany Enache


passive, cycle, ergometry, critically ill, ICU