Elastic Band Exercises for Patients with Intensive Care UnitAcquired Weakness: A Case Report


1 Medical Department of Continuity of Care and Disability, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University Hospital St. Orsola-Malpighi, Bologna, Italy,

2 Department of Clinical, Integrated and Experimental Medicine (DIMES), Respiratory and Critical Care Unit, University Hospital St. Orsola-Malpighi, Bologna, Italy,

3 Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


Intensive care unit-acquired weakness is characterised by severe impairment of muscle function that often arises after prolonged mechanical ventilation, difficult weaning, and severe sepsis. Elastic band exercises constitute an inexpensive and simple technique that is quite appealing for implementation in a “protected environment” such as the intensive care unit; however, elastic band application in the intensive care unit and in critical patients has not yet been described. A 72-year-old male was referred to the respiratory intensive care unit for hypoxemic respiratory failure due to acute respiratory distress syndrome. Upper limb active exercises were performed using an elastic band exploring three main movement rays: abduction, forward flexion, and external rotation. At discharge, major improvements were observed for upper limb activities. The patient was also able to maintain a sitting position at the edge of the bed starting from day 27. We found that an elastic band exercise program in a critical ill patient recovering from intensive care unit-acquired weakness was a suitable, safe, viable, and inexpensive therapeutic option to preserve residual upper limb motor activities and improve trunk control.