Safety and Feasibility of a Protocolized Approach to In-Bed Cycling Exercise in the Intensive Care Unit: Quality Improvement Project Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background: In-bed, supine cycle ergometry as a part of early rehabilitation in the intensive care unit (ICU) appears to be safe, feasible, and beneficial, but no standardized protocol exists. A standardized protocol may help guide use of cycle ergometry in the ICU. Objective: This study investigated whether a standardized protocol for in-bed cycling is safe and feasible, results in cycling for a longer duration, and achieves a higher resistance. Design: A quality improvement (QI) project was conducted. Methods: A 35-minute in-bed cycling protocol was implemented in a single medical intensive care unit (MICU) over a 7-month quality improvement (QI) period compared to pre-existing, prospectively collected data from an 18-month pre-QI period. Results: One hundred and six MICU patients received 260 cycling sessions in the QI period vs. 178 MICU patients receiving 498 sessions in the pre-QI period. The protocol was used in 249 (96%) of cycling sessions. The QI group cycled for longer median (IQR) duration (35 [25-35] vs. 25 [18-30] minutes, P < .001) and more frequently achieved a resistance level greater than gear 0 (47% vs. 17% of sessions, P < .001). There were 4 (1.5%) transient physiologic abnormalities during the QI period, and 1 (0.2%) during the pre-QI period ( P = .031). Limitations: Patient outcomes were not evaluated to understand if the protocol has clinical benefits. Conclusions: Use of a protocolized approach for in-bed cycling appears safe and feasible, results in cycling for longer duration, and achieved higher resistance.


  • Kimawi, Ibtehal
  • Lamberjack, Bryanna
  • Nelliot, Archana
  • Toonstra, Amy Lee
  • Zanni, Jennifer
  • Huang, Minxuan
  • Mantheiy, Earl
  • Kho, Michelle
  • Needham, Dale M

publication date

  • June 2017