Supporting our most critically ill and injured patients

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is one of five specialised commissioned ECMO services within the UK. ECMO stands for Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. It’s a bit like putting a patient on an artificial lung or heart machine.

Staff at St Thomas' using the Sara Combilizer® chair and the arm/leg cycler
Staff at St Thomas' using the Sara Combilizer® chair and the arm/leg cycler

Critical illness happens suddenly, without warning, to people of all ages and has a massive impact on patients. Patients commonly require support for their lung, heart or kidney function and this is often the main focus of patients, families and ICU staff. However, the impact of critical illness on patients’ muscle function is also significant and long-lasting. Although traditionally patients in ICU have been perceived as being ‘too sick’ to participate in rehabilitation, we now know that early exercise in the ICU improves long-term physical function. Safe, comfortable and early exercise can only be achieved with the help of specialist equipment.

The Sara Combilizer® chair and the arm/leg cycler have been bought for the benefit of the ICU patients from money donated by patients and their families to the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

'We are incredibly grateful for their support, which will allow our patients to benefit from equipment the NHS cannot afford to buy,' said Kelly Morris, clinical specialist physiotherapist in critical care.

The Sara Combilizer® chair allows patients to sit up and get out of bed even when they have significant muscle weakness. This is an incredibly important part of early mobilisation, helping physical and psychological recovery. The arm and leg cycling machine can be used by patients even if they are in bed. It is a different form of exercise from standing and walking and the graded resistance settings allow even the weakest patients to benefit.

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