After the ICU
Being discharged from the ICU is a huge milestone. However, there can be challenges in adjusting back to daily life. We created the Post-ICU Recovery Clinic at UCLA to help ICU survivors navigate this recovery journey. We are here to help you.
Who We Are
We are a multidisciplinary care team dedicated to helping you on your path to recovery. Our team includes physicians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and administrative assistants. We also work closely with pharmacists, nutritionists, neurologists, and psychotherapists both within the UCLA system and beyond. We know that each person has unique recovery needs, and with our multidisciplinary approach, we aim to individualize the care for each and every person and family.
Meet our Team:
“It felt good to get full complete answers. Everyone on the team was on the same page. Very professional! It makes me feel that UCLA cares for their patients’ wellbeing and recovery”
“To me it just felt PERFECT!”
“It helped give me an overall status of where I currently am in my recovery and what I need to work on”
“Me siento muy contenta con la atencion que todos aun puesto sobre mi salud”
“Keep up the GREAT WORK! You are making lives better! One visit at a time”
Press and Recognition
- We have partnered with the LA Opera to provide voice and breathing training for our patients. You can learn more about this program here: https://www.uclahealth.org/u-magazine/opera-gives-voice-and-breath-to-patients-recovering-from-covid
We recently published a paper on sequelae from COVID-19 critical illness. You can read this here: https://www.criticalcare.theclinics.com/article/S0749-0704(22)00001-X/fulltext#relatedArticles
Our occupational therapist, Lynette DeFrancia, has presented at several conferences including the OTAC 2020 and 2021 Annual Conferences, the Johns Hopkins 2020 Critical Care Rehabilitation Conference, and the AOTA 2022 Conference.
- Congrats to our respiratory therapist Joe Van Vleet, who won a 2021 UCLA Santa Monica Board of Advisors Employee Recognition Award for his inspirational dedication to his patients
Additional Resources for Patients
The recovery process is different for each individual. Some patients may experience a gradual return to their previous level of health. Others may experience new health problems that require ongoing medical attention. We are here to help you understand and navigate your recovery.
Respiratory dysfunction, respiratory muscle weakness, and chronic respiratory failure:
- Many people have trouble breathing after a hospitalization, particularly if they required a breathing tube (mechanical ventilation) in the ICU.
- Oxygen, other respiratory support devices, certain medications (such as inhalers or nebulizers), and pulmonary rehabilitation can help relieve symptoms of breathlessness.
- Close follow-up with a pulmonologist and a respiratory therapist can help you improve over time.
Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS):
- PICS encompasses the various health problems that some survivors can experience after an ICU stay.
- These can affect both the body and mind and include: ICU-acquired weakness, cognitive dysfunction, and mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety:
- ICU-acquired weakness, or muscle weakness, is common and can lead to difficulties with walking, bathing, dressing, and eating, among others.
- This can often improve over time, with treatment options including consultation with physical and occupational therapists, supervised exercise programs, mobility aides, and other environmental adjustments.
- Cognitive (or brain) dysfunction includes impairments in memory and attention, as well as difficulties solving problems and working on complex tasks. This can affect whether someone can return to work.
- Patient and family education can help with the development of strategies and coping techniques. Cognitive therapy can also help.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Anxiety, and Depression:
- PTSD can lead to flashbacks, nightmares or other distressing memories of the event, and can cause trouble sleeping, feelings of detachment, poor concentration, and angry outbursts.
- Symptoms of depression include fatigue, loss of interest, guilt, poor appetite, poor concentration, and difficulty sleeping.
- Symptoms of anxiety include irritability, excessive worry, restlessness, and fatigue.
- Treatment options are extensive for all of these and include medications and psychotherapy/counseling.
There are many great websites with a wealth of information on ICU survivorship and post-intensive care syndrome (PICS):
- The Society of Critical Care Medicine's THRIVE initiative: https://www.sccm.org/MyICUCare/THRIVE
- The UK-based site ICUSteps: http://icusteps.org/
- The Mayo Clinic: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/intensive-care-icu/
Support groups have also been helpful for many during the recovery process:
- The Mayo Clinic has an online support group: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/intensive-care-icu/
- Facebook has a variety of support groups, including:
Support from our community plays an essential role in our ability to provide and advance the care of ICU survivors. Our current goals include:
Funding a psychologist to work with our patients to ensure that they have access to high-quality mental health care.
Providing financial assistance to patients recovering from critical illness.
Increasing ICU recovery research, which is essential for improving the outcomes for future patients at UCLA and worldwide.
If you would like to partner with us in this mission, please click below or see our giving page. We are grateful for your thoughtful generosity.
For additional information about the ICU Recovery Center at UCLA, please contact [email protected]