Physiotherapy contributions to weaning and extubation of patients from mechanical ventilation
Background. Liberation of patients from mechanical ventilation (MV) is an important goal of patient care, to avoid the complications and
risks associated with prolonged MV.
Objective. To determine the extent of South African physiotherapists’ involvement in weaning and extubation of patients from MV and
whether current practice is evidence based.
Method. A survey questionnaire was developed, and content validated and made available electronically and in hard copy. Physiotherapists
working in adult intensive care units in public and private sector hospitals in South Africa (SA) were identified and invited to participate.
Results. Response rate was 43% (n=184). The majority of respondents (n=135, 73%) ‘never’ or ‘seldom’ got involved in decision-making
to wean patients from MV; a minority (n=8, 4%) were ‘routinely’ involved in decision-making. Some respondents (n=54, 29%) performed
extubation ‘often’ or ‘routinely’. The majority used exercises (n=149, 81%), early mobilisation out of bed (n=142, 77%) and deep breathing
exercises (DBEs) (n=142, 77%) ‘routinely’ to aid in respiratory muscle training. The majority of respondents ‘never’ adjusted ventilator
settings other than fraction of inspired oxygen. No association was found between type of physiotherapy degree respondents held and their
involvement in weaning (p=0.24).
Conclusion. SA physiotherapists’ contributions towards weaning of patients from MV through prescription of exercise therapy, early outof-
bed mobilisation and DBEs is evidence based. Involvement in adjustment of MV settings, decision-making regarding patient weaning,
development of weaning protocols for their units and extubation is limited.
Dipna Morar, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Heleen Van Aswegen, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Date published: 2016-07-26
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