Health Team

ICU program puts patients back on their feet

Posted March 7, 2014

— Intensive care patients often don’t get back on their feet until they recover, but staying in bed keeps some patients from getting better.

Regular walking has helped ease the path to recovery for Duke Raleigh Hospital patient Calvin Ruffin, 31, of Hampton, Va., whose pneumonia caused his multiple sclerosis to flare up.

ICU staff deemed Ruffin a good candidate for the hospital’s new early progressive mobility initiative, which identifies patients who may benefit from regular breaks from bed rest.

The program, funded by a grant from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, also selected other Triangle hospitals, including WakeMed, UNC Hospitals and Rex Healthcare.

“Research has shown that they’ve got so much muscle wasting from just lying in bed,” said Kristin Merritt, a Duke Raleigh ICU nurse manager.

Though Ruffin still needs a ventilator to help him breathe, he has made a great deal of progress in a short time, his tentative steps eventually outpacing ICU staff as he walked around the unit.

“The first day, he was real unsteady on his legs, and he tired quickly,” said his mother, Debbie Ruffin. “The second day, they had to keep up with him.”

Staff members were impressed with Ruffin’s progress.

“When a patient can get around our unit and come back to the bed, that’s like a huge deal to us,” said Jennifer LeBlanc, a Duke Raleigh ICU nurse.

Ruffin is determined to get stronger in spite of his weakening muscles.

“He said, ‘I want to get back to being able to rely on myself,’” his mother said.


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