Background: Critical illness and intensive care treatment cause physical and psychological stress. Numerous after-effects have been reported in literature and comprise both physical and psychological morbidity which may lead to impairments and disabilities. Objective: To provide an overview of most frequently encountered sequelae, impairments and disabilities by adult patients recovering from critical illness and ICU admission. Search strategy: Relevant controlled trials, cohort studies, meta-analyses and reviews were identified by searching the PUBMED and EMBASE databases. Findings: Patients discharged from intensive care have psychological and physical morbidity. This is at least partially caused by the ICU treatment itself. Although improvement is seen in the months after discharge physical and psychological sequelae may be long lasting. Reduced quality of life after discharge from the intensive care unit (ICU) is common, stressing the importance of the problem. Limitations and impairment may be viewed as part of the normal recovery from ICU, however under estimation and lack of treatment of these problems may lead to prolonged ICU recovery. Conclusions: There is convincing evidence for significant physical and psychological morbidity and functional limitations after intensive care. The need for follow-up and treatment should be the subject of future research.
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