700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

WeeMove: Developmentally Appropriate Exercise in the ICU

Mar 22, 2019

A stay in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) can be a challenging experience for children and their families.  The environment, the lines and tubes, and the critical nature of the ICU can be stressful and overwhelming. Historically, keeping children on bedrest while in the ICU was the standard-of-care.  However, there are many known health risks to prolonged time in bed.  These risks, such as delirium and ICU acquired weakness, can lead to increased time requiring support for breathing and a longer hospital stay. 

To help our ICU patients avoid these risks, we developed a groundbreaking program called WeeMove. The goal of the program is get children moving early on in their hospital stay. 

How does WeeMove work?

Physical and Occupational therapists in the ICU strive each day to engage children in activities that will get them up and moving. They work together with each parent and caregiver to decrease the bedrest stigma of the ICU.  Parents are provided education on how to safely hold and play with their child in the ICU with the assistance of the medical staff.  WeeMove works to restore function by engaging each child in developmentally appropriate exercises and activities such as supporting a child while sitting up to play with shaving cream or assisting a child in standing while racing cars down a ramp.  The goal is to get a child safely moving early and often.

Who is part of the WeeMove Team?

The WeeMove team consists of Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists that are part of the child’s care team. The team members communicate daily to determine the most appropriate exercise and developmentally appropriate activities for each patient. Each activity or exercise focuses on promoting function and mobility based on the child’s medical status.

How does WeeMove help patients?

Participating in therapist-guided developmentally appropriate activity early on in an ICU stay is shown to:

  • Increase strength and endurance, while improving quality of life
  • Aid in the faster return to a child’s prior level of activity
  • Help with parent-child engagement
  • Decrease pain and agitation
  • Decrease the time needed on respiratory support, and therefore lessen the time in the ICU and overall length of hospital stay

Find out more about our Physical and Occupational Therapy programs at Nationwide Children’s here. And remember, We Win When WeeMove!

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Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Erin Gates, PT, DPT
Clinical Therapies

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.