Intra-hospital physical therapy for patients with critical lower limb ischaemia: an expert consensus

ABSTRACT Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is a disease with a great burden for the healthcare system, patient’s functionality and quality of life. However, there is little evidence to guide intrahospital physical therapy programs for patients with CLI. Thus, this study aimed to provide an expert consensus on intrahospital physiotherapeutic care for CLI patients. An expert panel was made up with 18 experienced physical therapists, which represented 85.7% of physical therapists from a reference vascular surgery team in a university hospital. The Delphi method was used to produce a consensus, considering a minimum agreement of 70% and a mean or median score in the Likert scale ≥3.1. The questionnaires included items related to assessment, goals and physiotherapeutic interventions prior and after revascularization. A consensus was reached on assessing symptoms, cognitive, articular, musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory functions. Pain control, edema drainage, range of motion gain, walking incentive and health education are goals in the pre-operatory and the muscular strengthening in postoperatory phase. In both phases there was a consensus on the use of passive, active-assisted and active exercises, including upper limb exercises. Walking and therapeutic education are essential during the hospitalization period with offloading practices in area of plantar ulcer. Electroanalgesia should be used in preoperative phase and resisted exercises and lower limb elevation at postoperatory.