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Fisioterapia e Pesquisa

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NOZAWA, Emilia et al. A profile of Brazilian physical therapists in intensive care units. Fisioter. Pesqui. [online]. 2008, vol.15, n.2, pp.177-182. ISSN 1809-2950.

The purpose of this study was to outline a profile of physical therapists who work in intensive care units (ICU) in Brazil, focusing on service management, techniques used, and the degree of therapists' autonomy regarding invasive and non-invasive mechanical ventilation. Questionnaires were sent to the heads of physical therapy (PT) services of 1,192 hospitals registered at the Brazilian Intensive Care Medicine Association and 461 (39%) ICUs replied. In 88% of these, PT services are headed by physical therapists and up to eight therapists work in 78% of the ICUs. Therapists work 30 hours a week in 44.4% of the units; 46.1% are formally hired. PT 24-hour assistance is available in 32.8% of the ICUs and on weekends, in 88%. Concerning PT techniques, all therapists perform mobilization, positioning, and aspiration; 91.5% play an active role in non-invasive ventilation, with 42.5% working with full autonomy. As to invasive mechanical ventilation, 80% perform extubation, 79.2% adjusting and weaning; however, only 22% have full autonomy (the others requiring physicians' protocol). Brazilian physical therapists work mostly in private institution ICUs, in services headed by physiotherapists, and have relative autonomy in handling PT techniques and non-invasive mechanical ventilation; as to invasive mechanical ventilation, most depend on protocols or discussions with a physician.

Keywords : Intensive care units; Physical therapy department; hospital [statistics & numerical data].

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