Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine

Recovery from Critical Illness

There are various studies being undertaken in the recovery from critical illness.

Ward 118 ICU Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

We recognise that many patients recovering from critical illness face wide ranging challenges in order to return to their best possible health status. These include physical recovery from the profound effects of critical illness on muscle strength and function, energy levels, and physical fitness. These can limit the ability to carry out and participate in everyday activities. In addition, a life threatening illness can significantly affect emotional and psychological well-being. These factors all contribute to the reduced quality of life reported by many “survivors” of intensive care.

Research programme

Our multidisciplinary research programme is exploring the needs of patients during the months following an intensive care admission, how best to address these, and how best to measure the impact of interventions on patients’ well-being, their families and carers. We also want to understand what happens to patients during the years following an intensive care admission to help plan future services and respond to future demands on the health service.

Completed work

Our completed work includes a pilot study of a generic rehabilitation assistant trained specifically to enhance the provision of rehabilitation treatment following intensive care discharge. Dr. Pam Ramsay has completed a qualitative PhD providing detailed insight into patient’s needs during their recovery following critical illness. We have also used regional data to model the likely clinical and cost-effectiveness of a regional weaning unit for patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation.

The RECOVER trial

These studies informed the design of an ongoing multicentre randomised controlled trial of a novel complex intervention designed to enhance recovery following intensive care discharge (the RECOVER trial). Some participants in this study are also invited to take part in an interview based study of long term needs over a 12 month trajectory following intensive care admission (RELINQUISH) and a detailed study of barriers to nutritional recovery following critical illness (EATEN). Dr David Griffith is also exploring the role of persisting inflammation in modulating recovery of physical function among patients enrolled in the RECOVER trial. Our patient focussed research links closely with our epidemiology studies of population outcomes following critical illness.