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Cardiothoracic intensive care unit, Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device, Progressive mobility, Ventricular assist device



  1. Chavez, Jennifer MSN, RN, CCRN-CSC
  2. Bortolotto, Shannon Johnson MS, RN, APN, CCNS
  3. Paulson, Martha MSN, RN, CCRN
  4. Huntley, Nicole BSN, RN
  5. Sullivan, Breandan MD
  6. Babu, Ashok MD


Background: Progressive mobility (PM) is a clinical intervention that influences complications experienced throughout critical illness. Early PM is a relevant topic in critical care practice literature and was principle to introducing a PM care guideline in an acute cardiothoracic/cardiovascular intensive care unit.


Purpose: A noted challenge in the cardiothoracic/cardiovascular intensive care unit is caring for acute cardiac and pulmonary failure. Often, these patients require prolonged mechanical circulatory support via extracorporeal mechanical oxygenation or a ventricular assist device. This article describes safe and effective progressive mobilization for patients experiencing MCS in a case study format. This article also highlights how a multidisciplinary clinical team supports mobility practice in specific critical care roles.


Conclusions: Post-intensive care syndrome is composed of various health implications that occur following critical illness. Recent data suggest improved care outcomes when critically ill patients are awake and participate in active physical rehabilitation as early as clinically possible. The case studies presented indicate that mobility, to the point of ambulation, is a feasible clinical expectation when patients present with substantial acute respiratory and cardiac failure and are managed with MCS.


Clinical Implications: Development of a PM guideline uses a critical appraisal of practice evidence, highlights multidisciplinary collaboration, and increases progression to ambulation. Mobility for complex patients is attainable, as demonstrated in the postguideline outcomes. The PM guideline provides structure to primary caregivers and promotes safe practices. The PM guideline facilitates an advanced level of care, promotes safe practices, champions holistic recovery, and encourages active patient involvement, goals satisfying to both patients and staff.