Early Mobilization in Critically Ill Children: A Systematic Review Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To characterize how early mobilization is defined in the published literature and describe the evidence on safety and efficacy on early mobilization in critically ill children. STUDY DESIGN: Systematic search of randomized and nonrandomized studies assessing early mobilization-based physical therapy in critically ill children under 18 years of age in MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, CENTRAL, the National Institutes of Health, Evidence in Pediatric Intensive Care Collaborative, Physiotherapy Evidence Database, and the Mobilization-Network. We extracted data to identify the types of mobility-based interventions and definitions for early, as well as barriers, feasibility, adverse events, and efficacy outcomes (mortality, morbidities, and length of stay). RESULTS: Of 1199 titles found, we included 11 studies (2 pilot trials and 9 observational studies) and 1 clinical practice guideline in the analyses. Neurodevelopmentally appropriate increasing mobility levels have been described for critically ill children, and "early" mobilization was defined as either a range (within 48-72 hours) from admission to the pediatric intensive care unit or when clinical safety criteria are met. Current evidence suggests that early mobilization is safe and feasible and institutional practice guidelines significantly increase the frequency of rehabilitation consults, improve the proportion of patients who receive early mobilization, and reduce the time to mobilization. However, there were inconsistencies in populations and interventions across studies, and imprecision and risk of bias in included studies that precluded us from pooling data to evaluate the efficacy outcomes of early mobilization. CONCLUSIONS: The definition of early mobilization varies, but seems to be feasible and safe in critically ill children. The efficacy for early mobilization in this population is yet undetermined because of the low certainty of the evidence available.


  • Cuello-Garcia, Carlos A
  • Mai, Safiah Hwai Chuen
  • Simpson, Racquel
  • Al-Harbi, Samah
  • Choong, Karen Li-mei

publication date

  • December 2018