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What is mobility?

Mobility refers to actively moving, rather than lying in bed. It may include sitting at the side of the bed, standing, transferring to a chair, and even walking around.

  • Some patients can be mobilized even while they are on a ventilator or attached to numerous lines and devices.
  • The physiotherapist and the team select the patients who can safely carry out the treatment.
  • To ensure safety during mobilization, patients are closely monitored throughout the treatment.

Why is early mobility important?

Patients in the ICU often become weak and lose muscle strength from long periods of bed rest. Some have difficulty performing daily functions, lasting months after discharge.

Early mobility in the ICU is one of the most important aspects of the rehabilitation process.

Early mobility leads to more independence at hospital discharge, reduced delirium and less time on a breathing machine.

Active mobility is safe and includes numerous benefits:

For respiration:

  • Improved breathing
  • More effective cough, improving the ability to clear secretions from lungs
  • Helping wean patient off of a breathing machine

For the musculoskeletal system:

  • Improved muscle strength, balance, coordination
  • Stimulation of core muscles
  • Decreased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Decreased risk of blood clot in calf


  • Improved mood
  • Improved level of consciousness
  • Reduced risk of delirium
  • Better sleep

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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