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Physical weakness

Why is my loved one so weak?

People who are bedridden, even for only a few days, quickly lose strength and size of their muscles. For very sick patients, this loss of strength can be even quicker.

We don’t understand completely why this happens so quickly in very sick patients, but we do know that the longer patients stay in bed, the worse and more persistent the weakness becomes.

What can be done to prevent weakness?

There are things that can be done to prevent or minimize muscle weakness. They include:

  • Reduce or eliminate sedation as soon as it is as safe. Many patients can be safely managed with very minimal or even no sedation. This allows them to participate in rehabilitation;
  • Rehabilitation can start even when the patient is still on a mechanical ventilator;
  • Minimize time in bed;
  • Even simple tasks, such as sitting at the edge of the bed, can help to reduce weakness;
  • Ask to meet the physical therapist assigned to your family member. The physical therapist can explain what rehabilitation plans are appropriate.

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Location and contact

Critical Care Medicine

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, 
D-wing, 1st floor
room D1 08
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4522
Fax: 416-480-4999

For information about patients admitted to Sunnybrook's Intensive Care Units, please contact the unit through the hospital switchboard at 416-480-6100