Neemira Abdulla, physiotherapist at Lions Gate Hospital, mobilizing a critical care patient in the intensive care unit.

Profile: acute care physiotherapists

May is National Physiotherapy Month. To celebrate, the 400 VCH physiotherapists and rehabilitation assistants would like to share what they do every day. From highly specialized acute care settings in Vancouver to small rural community settings in Bella Coola, VCH physiotherapists and rehabilitation assistants treat a wide range of people and conditions.  This week we are highlighting the acute care physiotherapists.

Acute Care

The intensive care unit (ICU) is a dynamic interprofessional environment. Our ICU therapists are proud to be part of the multidisciplinary team in the treatment of this complex and challenging patient population.

Our physiotherapists assess and treat respiratory conditions and mobility issues to help improve the patient’s quality of life and prevent ICU-associated complications like de-conditioning, ventilator dependency, and respiratory conditions. Physiotherapists are involved in specific patient positioning, mobilization (including ambulation of ventilated patients), strengthening and balance exercises, suctioning and airway clearance techniques.

Rehabilitation in critical care is constantly changing and evolving, and our critical care physiotherapists across the health authority strive to stay current with cutting edge practice recommendations.  A major focus of physiotherapy treatment in the ICU is the early mobilization of critically ill patients and the therapists always work with their health care teams to promote and assist the functional improvement of patients during their stay in the ICU. In the last year, the physiotherapists in the Vancouver General ICU, which sees the most critically ill patients in our system, are continuing to push the boundaries and are now mobilizing patients who are on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).


Contact the VCH Physiotherapy Practice Support Leadership Team (internal link).

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